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As far as football goes, the GSL has become the laughing stock of the state. No team in the entire GSL has entered into the state tournament more than ten times. Shadle Park has only gone to the state tournament a few times in the school’s history. So why is the GSL performing so poorly in relation to the other school districts? The GSL students lack experience. The GSL has no football program for junior high students, while its competition, the Big 9, does. The majority of the GSL cannot play football until their first year of high school. The Big 9 districts fund and support junior high football programs in their schools. This gives the players of the Big 9 a two year advantage over the GSL schools. Players need more time to attain the knowledge and skills needed to play the complicated game of football. Learning the plays alone can take most of a player’s first season. Beginning this challenge in high school when competition is at an extreme can be very discouraging to new players. The GSL must start up a publicly ran junior high school football team so that it can regain its honor and enter its position as a strong competitor.
Improving competitiveness is not the only advantage to beginning a football program two years earlier. Junior high is a time when many young people reach a crossroads between the innocence of elementary school and the complicated choices that come with the independence of high school. These are the years that young people begin making life changing choices in their search to identify who they are in this new world of leaving childhood behind. Many middle schoolers choose paths that do not lead to positive results. Some students during this time begin the illegal use of drugs and alcohol as well as other delinquent behaviors. Sports are a proven deterrent to these types of decisions. Studies reveal the number of athletes that become involved with drugs and alcohol is a significantly lower percentage than that of non-athletes.
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