The votes are in! Before I give you the results, I want to thank all of you for casting your ballet. I don’t know the last time a subject matter brought in so many responses.
A quick and abbreviated version of what the story was about:
Jacob, a high school boy with dyslexia was not allowed to play sports on the school teams because of his poor grades. However, Jacob spent more time studying than all the other kids. His parents spent thousands of dollars to get him extra help with professional tutors. And, on top of all this, he was loved by his coaches and teammates. He was a coaches delight… great teammate, great sportsmanship, great work ethic, extremely coachable, very responsible and reliable. He was the full package; the kid every coach wants on his team. His attitude was so powerfully influential on the team, as he was that role model that all the kids looked up to and appreciated.
Being involved with sports gave him hope in his world where feeling “dumb” can take away all the joys of life. Sports and all it offers gave him confidence and the desire to dream about his future.
But, it was all taken away from him because of his learning disability.
I want to express my heart-felt appreciation to all of you who wrote in sharing your stories of your journeys through life with kids who have added challenges. For those of us who haven’t fully lived in that world, we can only imagine how hard it must be to try to keep your child connected in all these different aspects of life.
I heard stories of parents with kids with learning disabilities as well as physical disabilities. I heard stories that broke my heart, realizing that “the system” created more of a problem in the social, mental, and physical development of your child. For that I am really sad and so sorry.
I also heard stories of kids who were given the chance to play sports even with learning or physical disabilities, and because of this gift that was given to them, they gained confidence in themselves and many went on to have exciting and fulfilling careers after high school. It was the opportunities given to them to experience relationships, discipline, hard times, times of celebration, and physical development all because of what sports can give.
So the question that I asked was: should we find a way, change the system, bend the rules so that kids like Jacob can play sports? (Sports are not the only extracurricular activity that is valuable for these kids as there are plenty of after school activities that are beneficial as well.)
Ø Yes, we should give these kids the opportunity… 86%
Ø No, rules are rules and they need to be enforced…. 14%
My opinion? Put me in with the 86%!
Give these kids a chance. The education process is more than grades on a report card. It is all about equipping our kids for their future. If we have to find a way to help kids find success and hope and make possible the desire to dream, then that is what we do.
I have the opportunity to coach thousands of kids through club basketball, camps and clinics, and work with lots of learning and physically disabled kids. I see the value of sports not for the sake of winning games, or taking home the trophy, but for all the extras that come with it.
If sports can be used to encourage these kids to dream and have hope in an otherwise potentially dark world, then that’s what we need to do.
I am proud to be one of the 86%
If you have comments or questions for Tom Kuyper, you can email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.