Our society places a much higher emphasis on school sports than they do on student artistic endeavors or other educational clubs and activities.
This problem exists at the high school level as well as the college level. This is an issue that is not only present in all of society, but also in the Kingswood Oxford community. Students at KO are required to fulfill an athletic requirement every season for all four years of high school.
Students have some non-sporting options, including Robotics or Theater, which they can choose to fulfill a season of the athletic requirement. However, there are far more team sports options available to students than other types of experiences and there is definitely an emphasis on fulfilling the requirement as a member of a sports team.
I am not questioning the importance of exercise or the value of team sports. Team sports should absolutely be an extra-curricular choice that is available for students who have a genuine interest in a sport. The art requirement at KO is 1.5 credits to graduate which means one only has to take roughly three art classes in their whole time in the Upper School. A student must have 12 sports seasons completed with approved activities, most of which are sports teams.
An art class meets three times for an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes per week, while the athletic programs meets five days per week for at least an hour with games on weekends. The emphasis on arts at KO is drastically disproportionate to the emphasis on sports. Art, though sometimes overlooked and undervalued, is a very powerful force in society which is why KO should be doing more to foster the artistic students’ interest.
Artistic movements have helped shape history from the Harlem Renaissance to the protest songs of the 1960s. Art is unique in that it unites people through the feelings it evokes. Art is a catalyst for change in society, and it fosters creativity which is largely needed right now to help solve significant issues the world is facing.
I think every student at KO should be encouraged to follow their own interests while also experimenting and trying new activities. Participating in a team sport if it is just “checking off a box” does not hold much value for a student. Instead students should be finding their passion and devoting their time to pursuing it. I think it is important for students who have never played a team sport to try one, just like I think it is important for an athlete to attend an art class if they never have before.
That being said, I do not understand how it is fair that an athlete has more opportunities to pursue their interest than an artist does.
I do not think that anyone should be forced to participate in activities they have little or no interest in, especially extracurricular ones, which is why I think KO needs to expand their art programs and extracurricular offerings, and reduce the athletic requirements.
This year, for the first time, KO is having a program for visual artists that counts as an athletic credit in the winter. This is a huge step forward, and as an artist I am so excited that this is finally an option. I think this is a step in the right direction, but I do think there needs to be more programs like this one encouraged and available to the KO community.
Every student should have equal opportunities to follow their passions and KO should not emphasize one particular type of activity as more important than another.