Its campus has lush grass fields, six tennis courts, and an athletic Hall of Fame.“They have days when teams dress up in Hawaiian clothes or pajamas just because—‘We’re the soccer team! (To protect the privacy of Jenny and other students in this story, only their first names are used.)By contrast, in South Korea, whose 15-year-olds rank fourth in the world (behind Shanghai, Singapore, and Hong Kong) on a test of critical thinking in math, Jenny’s classmates played pickup soccer on a dirt field at lunchtime.The United States routinely spends more tax dollars per high-school athlete than per high-school math student—unlike most countries worldwide.
The event was a milestone in Texas history: the first recorded football game between two high-school teams.
Until then, most American boys had played sports in the haphazard way of boys the world over: ambling onto fields and into alleys for pickup games or challenging other loosely affiliated groups of students to a match.
move to the United States from all over the world, for all kinds of reasons.
They observe everything in their new country with fresh eyes, including basic features of American life that most of us never stop to consider.
All of those things matter, and Jenny finds it refreshing to attend a school that is about so much more than academics.
But as I’ve traveled around the world visiting places that do things differently—and get better results—I’ve started to wonder about the trade-offs we make.
I was relieved to find a place where girls were not expected to sit quietly or look pretty, and I still love the game.
Like most other Americans, I can rattle off the many benefits of high-school sports: exercise, lessons in sportsmanship and perseverance, school spirit, and just plain fun.
One element of our education system consistently surprises them: “Sports are a big deal here,” says Jenny, who moved to America from South Korea with her family in 2011.
Shawnee High, her public school in southern New Jersey, fields teams in 18 sports over the course of the school year, including golf and bowling.