Letters to the Editor: High school sports bring us together

Wilson lost to Yorktown on Thursday as the Tigers continue to adjust to a new running game. (Brian Kapur/The Current/August 2017)

Tailgating. Pep rallies. Friday night lights. The new school year is here! And that’s exciting news for student-athletes and high school sports fans alike.

Research shows that being a student-athlete is about a lot more than fun and games. It teaches important life lessons, too. High school athletes have higher GPAs and fewer school absences than non-athletes, and they also develop the kind of work ethic and self-discipline skills that enable them to become more responsible and productive community members.

Even attending high school sporting events teaches important life lessons. Among them, it teaches that we can live in different communities, come from different backgrounds, faiths and cultures, cheer for different teams, and still have a common bond.

That’s why attending the activities hosted by your high school this fall is so important. It’s an opportunity not just to cheer for your team but also to celebrate our commonality. And that’s something our country needs right now.

The bond we share is mutually supporting the teenagers in the District of Columbia. We applaud their persistence, tenacity, preparation and hard work, regardless of the uniform they wear. We acknowledge that education-based high school sports are enhancing their lives and ours in ways that few other activities could. And we agree that, regardless of what side of the field we sit on, attending a high school sporting event is an uplifting, enriching, family-friendly experience for all of us.

D.C. schools are not only educating our next generation of leaders but also providing a place where we congregate, where people from every corner of town and all walks of life come together as one. And at no time is this unity more evident than during a high school athletic event.

This is the beginning of a new school year. Opportunities abound in the classroom and outside it. Let’s make the most of them by attending as many athletic events at the high school in our community as possible.

Turn on the lights, and let the games begin!

Bob Gardner, executive director, National Federation of State High School Associations; Clark Ray, executive director, D.C. State Athletic Association