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Marriage and Family

High School Sports Part 1 – When Smaller is Better

With fall comes high school sports and for the past 7 falls I’ve been oh so thankful our kids attend a small class D school. Why? Because all of my kids have had every opportunity to participate in all the sports they’ve wanted to. You see at small schools, everyone who wants to be an athlete can be, and anyone who wants to be on the team, is on the team.

Even this fall, our youngest son Jonathan, decided he wanted to play soccer again but also try cross-country. So our school’s coaches and administration have worked it out for him and 3 other students to “dual sport”. This is an incredible opportunity for Jonathan to find out how much he really likes running without giving up his spot on the soccer team.

In addition, Jonathan, along with his brother Mitch, can play a sport all three seasons, to be a “3 sport athlete” if they choose. And this is true of every student in our little school.

Now it’s also true that being a “three sport” or “dual sport” athlete doesn’t create specialized athletes who might have a better chance to play Division 1 (though Class D athletes do play Division 1). But many of our students have opportunities to play Division 3 and NAIA sports in college if they choose. And the reality is not many students who specialize in a sport at larger high schools end up playing Division 1 or 2. So the truth is there’s nothing lost in being a well-rounded athlete, but so much to gain.

But why I’m really thankful each fall, isn’t because my kids can be three sport athletes, but because the small school environment allows high school sports to be what they’re supposed to be – opportunities to learn life transforming lessons outside of the classroom. It seems that this purpose is so easily lost when winning and scholarships become more important than providing opportunities for as many students as possible to learn the valuable lessons that sports teach so well.

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