I have a friend who not only ignores sports but actively doesn't like them. She points out that in her midwestern public high school, all the extra money went into sports, leaving almost nothing for music, art, drama, never mind library books. I went to a high school were sports were important, but not THAT important. I don't think I can even remember any one boy who was on the football team. So, I'd listen to her argument and nod and say, "But sports build a sense of teamwork and create opportunities for individual success."
This morning, however, I read this in The Trouble with Boys:
"Today, parents from every economic background urge their daughters to pursue their dreams and obtain the credentials they'll need to ensure lifelong economic independence. (Once a woman enters the workplace, the messages we give her about society's expectations are much more cloudy. But that's another book.)
In contrast, the only unified message that we regularly send to boys has nothing to do with doing well in school or achieving economic independence. The main message we deliver to our young men is that they should do well in sports -- particularly team sports such as football, basketball, baseball, and lacrosse. Schools that barely have enough money for textbooks build stadiums for their (largely male) teams."
Right now, I could eat my words for breakfast.
NOTE: Now that it's after lunch I'd like to clarify that I don't think sports are bad for boys. I think encouraging sports as the primary (and secondary) locus for success in school is not good for boys. Sports are important and can be life-changing, but they're not everything.