Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus, I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. - 1 Corinthians 10:24-27
As I reflect back on my fifteen plus years in professional coaching, I’m often struck by two extremes of philosophical understandings of Athletics and Physical Education within a curriculum of a school setting. The first relegates it to absolutely no importance, as it has nothing to do with classroom instruction and merely needs to be offered for the utilitarian function of stuffing a college application resume. This attitude follows that winning or losing doesn’t matter, everyone can be a winner, and that mere participation is satisfactory in game and sport. A philosophy such as this smacks in the face of my entire educational experience. Upon reflection, my most significant educational influences were my coaches.
On the other hand, many individuals and schools elevate sport to a neo-pagan religion. Family life completely revolves around sport participation, children specialize in sport at extremely young ages, and children seem to be putting all their eggs in a single basket in order to achieve a college scholarship or future professional career. This false philosophy also fails to adequately take the human person into account and does tremendous harm to people and society at large.
The ancients, both St. Paul in the quotation above, and Plato in “The Republic”, point out a different path and properly order sport in the lives and educational process for a soul. They effectively refute both prior educational fallacies. Continue reading Athletics and Play in Curriculum