Universities, academics, and fitness

May 18, 2015 by Joshua
in Education, Fitness

NYU emailed me to make sure the athletes in my class are doing well.

I understand that some athletes pay more attention to sports than academics than the school wants. I have no problem with their checking in.

It makes me think, though, about the relative value our society puts on the mind and body. I understand why a school would want to make sure its students succeeded academically.

Maybe my life isn’t representative of everyone’s, but I don’t remember much institutional support for taking care of my body, only for my mind, like it was valued more. As a student, I had to take initiative to stay in shape or do sports, while the school strongly enforced my schoolwork. I feel like society would disparage or even attack any institution that values fitness or athletics over grades, or even treats the mind and body equally. Schools cut gym, recess, and home economics (the only place I remember school covering diet) classes to create more academic classes. There are many voices in society, so I’m averaging over a lot of them.

As an adult I’ve learned to value the body, behavior, movement, rhythm, and things like that more than my environment did growing up. I value the mind, of course, but I don’t neglect the body like society does. I feel like my society values sports, dancing, playing musical instruments, and other physical activities, but generally as professions. Otherwise I see society views them as at most personally valuable but not socially valuable. Institutions see them as distractions from an education for a student.

Meanwhile, the average American’s health keeps declining.

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