Mandatory Sports

Tim Ferriss’ podcast can be excellent: he brings on smart, wise guests and gives them the space to tell stories worth listening to.

But sometimes he can say pretty crazy stuff. Indeed, he’s known for pushing the envelope of sanity in personal development.

But what got me calling him “Crazy Tim Ferris” was when, in his most recent podcast, he said that “I think that sports should be mandatory in elementary school and high school.”

This is crazy.

Let me be clear: I am writing this as an arts educator and advocate. But I don’t think performing arts should be mandatory in high school, either.

His logic is fairly sound – “Sports enable you to inoculate yourself against fear and failure because you are constantly delivered small doses of both, and you have to contend with them in a sports arena, where success is objectively determined.” Well, relatively sound.

But this is true in virtually every properly administered educational experience. Math class. Voice lessons. Literally every learning opportunity.

Athletics have a place in education, and we certainly should provide opportunities for every student to learn how to care for her physical health. And compete if she so desires.

But mandatory? That’s crazy.