Physical education and sports in Canada has evolved greatly over the last two centuries through legitimizing sport in the Canadian school curriculum. Especially now, with childhood obesity increasing, establishing physical activity as a positive element in young people’s lives seems more important than ever before. Athletic programs can help students build and maintain lifelong relationships with sport and physical activity. Physical education’s purpose in school has also changed drastically. Before, it was a means to train society’s future leaders or military commanders. Now, it is recognized as an inseparable element of every student’s life. Despite the fact that it has become a legitimate academic course, it is often the first course to suffer when schools undergo funding cuts. In Canadian schools, Physical education started as early as 1846, when Egerton Ryerson introduces his public education plan. Physical education becomes part of the curriculum, but it is not mandatory. This left individual teachers and schools to decide whether or not they would teach it. In 1872, The Ontario Education Act, is enacted which recognizes physical education as a school subject. A few years later in 1880, public schools begin to organize extracurricular games. In 1889, physical training becomes compulsory. Then in 1909, The Strathcona trust, of $500 000 is established, providing future funding for physical education.
Now, the aim of physical education in the school curriculum is to promote physical activity in all students. Studies have shown that Canadian students are significantly less active today than they were 30 years ago. Physical inactivity can become a lifestyle for many students and so when they grow up they are more likely to become overweight adults. It is said that a human body is like a machine, if it remains idle for a long period of time it gets rusty. Similarly, the body, if not exercised becomes more susceptible for disease. Students should actively participate in sports to avoid being tired and improve their physical and mental well-being. The importance of sports and games in school encompasses more than just the benefit of physical activity. Sports instill many lessons that are essential in the life of a student and play a pivotal role in the makeup of a young athlete. Immersing students in various sports is a truly valuable endeavor for the benefits are priceless as they get older.
For instance, playing sports allow students to feel camaraderie. Sports provide a good place and time for students to bond with classmates and coaches. Sports also boost the overall morale and support in the school. It enables the school to come together, whether playing or observing, to cheer for their school. Increased interest in school, generally results in the enjoyment in academics. Sports also help students to develop self-confidence. Sports motivate students and allow them to see the potential for growth. They also realize they can overcome obstacles and attain success through their own efforts. They also help to empower students and builds on their developing character. Sports also help to teach students how to accept defeat with a smile. The healthy spirit of rivalry leads to improvement in the performance of students. They learn how to be humble so when they grow up they can accept failures and mistakes. Exercising also helps by making muscles become more toned, improving the strength of bones. Students realize the value of healthy eating, exercise, and rest.
Also, people who are inactive are at greater risks for health problems, which mean increased health care costs as well. If the population of inactive Canadians was reduced by 10%, it is estimated that we could save $5 billion in health care costs. Participation in sports release endorphins which help decrease depression and increase energy. It also reduces the risk of eating disorders because students learn how to make healthy changes to their lifestyle. Students also benefits from sports by learning to time manage and to be able to balance both school and sports. Sport also allows them to have recreation to help them keep away from drugs and alcohol. Teamwork is also naturally learned through the participation of sports. Students learn how to work together and under a captain. Respect is also learned because students learn how to respect others and accept suggestions/advice from other people. When students participate in sports, they learn how to lead a team and help bring out and nurture qualities of leadership.
Despite these many benefits, there are still budget cuts that have made some schools opt out of sports, believing that money would be better spent on academics. Sacrificing high school sports lessens every child’s high school experience, their ability to perform at optimum academic levels and develop into a well-rounded adult. Sport and opportunities of play are consistent with the rights of the child to optimum development, has been identified by UNICEF as among the crucial components to the delivery of quality education. Budget cuts have left many school boards across the country with limited amounts of money allocated for sport programs, and the money is often diverted to satisfy academic demands. Not only has the amount of time devoted for sports have been decreased, but there is also a shortage of qualified instructors, and a lack of the equipment needed for the sport activities. Due to these cuts, schools have been forced to adapt their programs in an effort to provide some level of physical activity to the students. Despite the measures that schools take to keep physical education as a part of school, these programs have suffered.
Thus, the importance of sports in the life of a young student is invaluable. Sports, instill lessons that are essential in the life of a student. They play a pivotal role in the makeup of a young child, especially in the middle to high school years where students are must more mature and mentally developed. Important values like discipline, responsibility, self-confidence, and sacrifice are not shown enough on the TV or internet. Rather, it is up to parents, teachers, and sport teams/programs to help mold and develop these qualities into the lives of students, since students spend half their time at school.