If you follow this blog you know we've got an exchange student. What I haven't mentioned is that he's a pretty good tennis player and is playing for his school.
Tennis is a fall sport for boys around here. That means that our student leaves the house at 6:30am to catch the bus to go to school at 7:30am. He get's done at 2:50 and reports for tennis practice from 3:30-5:30. My wonderful husband picks him up at 5:30 and gets him home for dinner at 6pm. He does his homework after dinner and has (maybe) an hour to visit before he gets to bed at 9:30pm or 10pm, just to do it all over again the next day. It's tiring just thinking about his schedule!
Relating to tennis and sports, he noted that for days that there are away matches, he's excused from class early so as to catch the bus to the match. He was amazed yesterday when his teacher actually reminded him 5 minutes before it was necessary that he should be leaving to catch the bus to the match. A different teacher changed a due date since he might not have time to finish his homework due to a tennis match. "I see how important American's value sports compared to academics" he said. Ya, I guess I see that too.
Traveling on the bus yesterday an assistant coach had a word with him. Our student was told that he should be putting more time and energy into tennis. She pointed out that school here wasn't that hard compared to what he was used to, and that the tennis season was so short and intense it should be a higher priority than school.
OMG! You've got to be kidding. Right? These are still growing bodies. They are being pushed to the limit with 2 hour practices 5 days a week, plus matches, in the Colorado August heat (90+ degrees as often as not) and he's being told to give more? From where I ask? These kids are asked - told even - to play through injuries, miss class, delay school work, miss family events, and then are being told by an authority figure to give even more?
Our student wants to play tennis. I can see that the camaraderie he has with team mates is invaluable. The chance to make new friends, improve his skills, be part of a team... these are all good things. But to value these above a student's health, intellectual growth, and community involvement is short sighted and not in the best interest of the student.
I am ashamed of our educational system and embarrassed by the values made evident by it's actions.