If you were asked to describe what you think of in association with high school sports, chances are you will immediately conjure up images of high school football and Friday night lights.
If you are from a colder region of the United States, maybe it's hockey that you will think of first. For others, it may be baseball, basketball, or even lacrosse. However, there are certain sports that, for whatever reason, seem to be deficient within the realm of American high school sports.
I will now list five sports that I believe deserve greater representation within the world of American high school sports.
Water polo is a slowly growing team sport within the United States. However, while the game is becoming increasingly popular in California and several other regions of the country, the majority of American teens have never even been exposed to this exciting sport.
In the Beijing Olympics, the USA team finished with a silver medal, despite the fact that nearly the entire team was from California. If water polo can start collecting talent from gifted athletes across the country, our national team would likely become unstoppable.
Few would argue that paintball is one of the most enjoyable sports in existence to play. Unlike games such as football or basketball, size and strength play a very small factor in a player's chances for success in paintball, which means athletes of all shapes and sizes would be able to contribute.
For this reason, I believe that paintball should be assimilated into the high school sports curriculum across the country.
Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, is one of the fastest growing sports in the world today.
More and more MMA gyms are opening across the country, and many teens and young men are beginning to take an interest in the sport from the vantage point of a participant.
While MMA is obviously a violent sport, if regulated at the high school level, the game can be taught to high schoolers in a much safer manner with full protection available, while at the same time instilling in its participants the discipline and respect that makes MMA a martial art.
While almost every major high school in America has a football team, very few actually have a rugby team.
Rugby, the sport from which American football was essentially derived, is a hard hitting, fast paced game that requires all different types of athletes.
As a result, I believe athletes from any sports background would be able to find success on the rugby pitch if they are willing to put in the work.
While high school wrestling is extremely common in the United States, I do not know of a single high school within the country that condones the sport of boxing.
This needs to change.
The reason for the lack of boxing in high school sports is obvious; it is stereotyped to be a violent sport that will lead its participants to serious injury. However, this simply isn't true.
When taught the right way, boxing is a sport that instills a great degree of discipline in its participants, and boxers are often taught to respect their opponents. Furthermore, if regulated under rules similar to few colleges that have the sport (such as Army), the sport is actually very, very safe.
With full head- gear, larger gloves, and shorter rounds, the chances of an injury aren't very high at all. Also, at the high school level, the referee would likely call the match as soon as one of the competitors finds themselves in danger.
Under such strict regulations, the sport of boxing would be much safer than a sport like football, in which injuries are frequent and practically expected.
In the end, there is no reason why boxing shouldn't be included as a high school sport, and I believe we as a society are doing our youth a disservice by preventing them from partaking in such a great sport.