• Sumo

By Ken Reed

Spelman College, a historically black women’s college in Atlanta, recently announced its withdrawal from intercollegiate athletics. In its place will be a fitness and nutrition program targeting all students at Spelman.

“When we studied this early this year, I was startled to see that we really only had 80 student athletes out of 2,100 students, and our program was costing almost $1 million,” said Beverly Daniel Tatum, the college president.

Tatum decided that when it comes to wellness, all students need to be athletes, in terms of becoming more physically active. In addition to dropping varsity athletics, Spelman’s physical education classes will move from a sports focus toward general fitness.

“We want our students to become what I call soldiers in the wellness revolution,” said Dr. Tatum.

League of Fans has long been a proponent of sports and physical education programs for all students, not just elite athletes. The country is in the middle of an unprecedented childhood obesity epidemic, making it extremely hard for elementary, middle school, and high schools — as well as colleges — to justify expenditures for varsity athletics, which serve a relative small percentage of the student body.

More schools — at all levels — need to seriously consider a move similar to Spelman’s. It’s not necessarily an either/or decision. Interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics can coincide with physical education and intramural-type sports and physical activity programs for all students. But Sports and PE for All needs to be priority one.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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