Children do not have the right to play school sports

A recent vote by the AIA to cancel winter sports had parents and athletes in an uproar.

Recently, the high school sports governing body here in Arizona—the Arizona Interscholastic Association—voted to cancel the winter sports season, a cautionary measure taken due to the alarming prevalence of Covid-19 cases in the state.

The hue and cry were immediate. AIA board members were harassed and threatened, while athletes marched outside the association’s headquarters protesting the decision. Parents pushed back, demanding that their children be allowed to play, saying that the kids had the right to participate in sports.

But that’s not true. As a high school teacher of twenty years, I often had to correct my students in this regard. Sports— as well as all extracurricular activities— are a privilege not a right.

School sports are a privilege not a right.

Now, before you jump to conclusions, understand that I spent forty years of my working life in sports, both as a journalist and an official, where I called football, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball games. (As a disclaimer, note that I worked baseball and football for the AIA.) That said, I agree wholeheartedly that children glean important life skills from participating in sports, like being part of a team, understanding the need to win and lose graciously, and learning how to get up and try again after they’ve been knocked down. I always encouraged my students to participate in sports.

However, we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic that has killed close to 380,000 people in the U.S. alone and almost two million worldwide. Over 90 million people have had the disease, some of whom may have debilitating side effects for the rest of their lives. And the virus shows no hint of waning.

Arizona is currently the worst hot spot in the country. So, when a host of doctors proclaimed that it would be dangerous for school sports to continue at this time, the AIA board made its decision.

“Unfortunately, it is expected that the state will see a continued rise in Covid-19 hospitalizations for some time,” Dr. Kristina Wilson, the chairwoman of the AIA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, said in a recent article in the Arizona Republic. “As medical professionals we cannot in good conscience recommend that students engage in a winter season under the current conditions.”

It was not surprising then that the board members decided against having winter sports, though the 5-4 vote shocked me. With our hospitals verging on full occupancy and infection rates ravaging the populace, I would have expected a 9-0 vote.

Kids are tougher than you think. Disappointment is part of life and, despite what parents are saying, it’s not generally a tragedy.

But what really stunned me was that, following hysterical online bashing and wailing about the terrible damage this decision would do to kids, the board backtracked. A second vote was taken and the winter season was reinstated.

The parents of these athletes should be ashamed, especially those claiming that their children’s mental health is at stake. Kids are tougher than you think. Yes, there will be disappointment, but that’s part of life and dealing with it is a lesson that can’t come too soon. And let’s not forget patience, perseverance, and perspective.

This reminds me of the lyrics to that old Rolling Stones song. “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well, you might find, you get what you need.” It’s time we imparted that message to our kids, not the one that says you should bully people into submission to get your way.



Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

Order your copy here:

2 thoughts on “Children do not have the right to play school sports

  1. Michael says:

    This is so right on. I would love the kids to play sports, but it is far to dangerous. With hospital numbers climbing daily and the death toll rising people need to take a step back look as these precautions as a way help the greater good.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s