OPINION: Are Jewish schools discouraging sport?

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OPINION: Are Jewish schools discouraging sport?

Itamar Blauer Picture
Itamar Blauer

By Itamar Blauer – Sixth Former

It is fact that there are not many Jewish sportspeople and athletes, but people don’t seem to ask “why?”. Is it because as Jews we put education first, before extra-curricular activities, or is it simply because Jews are bad at sport? Personally, I believe that Jewish people are brought up with the value that education is our number one priority in order to succeed in life. But the answer isn’t that simple.

Is having a good education deemed more significant and important to schools than extra curricular activities? Evidently, yes. Education is the top priority when it comes to school, therefore leading to deprivation of PE and sports within school.

Schools today, especially Jewish schools, are fighting for top places in the national league tables, with GCSE results (A*-C grades) being crucial for success and for the higher listing in the school rankings. But does this discourage sport within schools? There is no decisive answer to this question, as schools do offer clubs and PE lessons to students, but the length of these may be either minimal or not enough in order to build athlete-like qualities.

Secondary schools are increasingly prioritising top quality education, being the key to a successful future, however sport enthusiasts have limited opportunities in order to practice sport, having to use up free time and weekends for sports clubs and/or training sessions.

Could there be more Jewish professional athletes if schools would give them more opportunities to participate in sport, more than standard PE lessons and lunchtime clubs? It would definitely be more likely.

Jews are often stereotyped as being more academic and not sporty, however this can change if secondary schools can try to do more in order to help pupils who have an interest in sport, such as providing more sport clubs and enlarging the amount of time students participate in physical activity.

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