By Rep. Craig Ford
We all know that education and jobs go hand-in-hand. If you want to get a good job, you have to have a good education. And having good schools is an important part of recruiting jobs and industries to a community.
Education gets a lot of attention in Alabama. You hear a lot about how we need to invest more in reading, math, science and computer courses, and we absolutely do need to invest more in those areas.
You also hear a lot about sports. But what often gets overlooked is the educational benefits that comes from playing sports.
Sports teach important life lessons that you might not necessarily learn just in the classroom. When you play sports, you learn about hard work and sacrifice, and the importance of working together as a team toward a common goal. Sports also teach us how to win and lose with dignity and grace and how to persevere when the odds are stacked against you, or things don’t go your way.
These are all important lessons that matter in every work environment, whether you work in a plant, on a farm or in an office.
Sports mirror life and the workforce. For example, in sports you sometimes get a bad call from the referee or umpire. When that happens, you can either let it get to you and lose the game, or you can adapt, put the bad call behind you and do your best to win the game.
The same thing happens in life. Maybe your day isn’t going well, or your boss starts a new policy that makes your life more difficult. You have to earn a living, so you can’t quit your job every time things don’t go your way. When things go bad, you have to be able to move on and get the job done.
Another example is teamwork. Most jobs can’t be done without help from others. Doctors need nurses and other specialists to help them diagnose and treat illnesses. Workers on the assembly line rely on each section to do their job in order to finish the product. Farmers need workers to help them plant and harvest their crops. And I know my insurance agency wouldn’t be able to function without each agent and employee doing his or her job.
Sure, there are jobs that can be done by one person. And, yes, there are times when quitting or changing jobs is the right decision. But most jobs require some level of teamwork, and most of us have to earn a living so we can’t quit when we have a bad day or things don’t go our way.
Sports also help some kids focus and do better in school. As a volunteer coach, and the parent of two kids who played sports, I’ve seen many kids whose grades improve when their sport is in season. A full day and steady routine helps keep them focused and less distracted.
The beautiful thing about sports is that you don’t have to be a good athlete to enjoy and benefit from sports. The lessons that sports teach apply to many different aspects of life and work, and if kids can find a sport they enjoy, it can help them have a healthier lifestyle when they grow up.
Athleticism helps promote strong muscles and joints, as well as strong heart health that can help prevent painful and dangerous health problems later in life. This not only means a better quality of life, but it could also save money by avoiding medical costs that might by preventable.
We still need to invest more in reading, math, science and technology programs. And we don’t need to lose other important academic programs like social studies and the arts. But sports play an important role, and their educational benefits shouldn’t be overlooked.
Sports teach important lessons about life that you might not learn just from being in the classroom. And the lessons that sports teach are the lessons that are applicable in every work environment. Sports and academics go hand-in-hand. We need a good balance of both in our children’s lives.
Rep. Craig Ford represents Gadsden and Etowah County in the Alabama House of Representatives. He served as the House Minority Leader from 2010-2016.