November 18, 2017

Commentary: School Sports/Music/Arts Matter!

Posted by bobrod72

One cannot deny the prevalence of sports in our society. From youth through professional ranks, sports plays a critical role in the fiber of our socioeconomic DNA. Today's Superbowl featuring the region's New England Patriots presents clear evidence of this. As I made my run earlier for game-time "supplies," I made special note of the atmosphere around me. Other than the area food stores, the usually congested streets and highways were near empty. People are at home gearing up for the Superbowl or already gathering at taverns, restaurants or friends and relatives for house parties.

As I made my way to Cascerta Pizza on "The Hill", even the notorious Route 95 S-curve was devoid of traffic. Back in East Providence, with my car overtaken by the aroma of pizza and wimpy skimpy's (spinach & pepperoni pies), the major roads were about deserted. There was an eerie quiet everywhere, akin to Christmas morning.

Undeniably, whether you like sports or not, they have a major influence in just about all we do. Having the Patriots in the big game has meant millions of dollars to the local economy and will continue to do so long after the game is finished.

A New England win will cause celebrations to break out in most neighborhoods. Superbowl parties are everywhere. Leading up to the game, schools, businesses, hospitals, television and more were all talking about and preparing for the big game. There is no escaping it, even for the most sports-ambivalent people out there.

This is as it should be. The determination and skills involved in athletics has helped to build character in many since shortly after birth. Athletics helps to make for sound body and mind. Whether in a casual, just-for-fun way, or in a highly competitive style, sports are good for society in general.

Now I don't speak of those who go to far and become obnoxious or go overboard in sports zealousness. Kept in proper perspective, Sports can be a unifying factor and healthy part of life.

Nowhere are sports more important than in our schools. School sports keeps many a student focused and motivated to stay in and to do well in school. The time spent practicing every day and competing not only helps to build this human character, but also keeps thousands of easily distracted kids off the streets. That's why it was a crying shame when a group of elected officials in EP voted to eliminate middle school sports and drastically curtail school athletics and coaches at all levels a few years ago.

Thankfully, most in the community rallied against these moves and that entire bunch of shortsighted, vindictive politicians were voted out of office. The damage was done but most programs were eventually reinstated and State championships have started to reappear. Don't get me wrong, it's not just about the titles, but people do like to win. It helps to keep our good student-athletes from leaving our schools.

Good academics won't succeed without the opportunity for the arts, music and sports in our classrooms. Remember the popular Benny's Christmas TV ad featuring our own Kent Heights school choir? A former city official wanted that elementary music program abolished. The choir remains, the official is gone. Thankfully.

So to those who don't understand the importance of sports, music and art in our schools and society - look around today. Take a walk at halftime. You'll hear crickets outside. Most are watching The Game. It's Superbowl Sunday. The streets and stores are deserted. But our hearts, souls and lives are consumed with anticipation and passion. It matters. With apologies to the Jersey Giants/Jets fans out there, go Pats!

(The views in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of the editor and publisher. Bob Rodericks is a columnist for the East Providence Reporter.)

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