[LETTERS]New school sports system needed

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[LETTERS]New school sports system needed

In “Ending sports violence” [Editorial, Nov. 20] it was suggested that teenage athletes must be guaranteed a proper education and violence by coaches and seniors be curbed. As part of the efforts, the Korea Football Association and the government decided to ban soccer competitions during school terms. That’s exactly my opinion.

But I think it’s a little too late. People in education think of verbal, physical and sexual abuse and skipping classes in secondary school as common things. The reality in the current school sports system is also known very well. So, the government needs to create a new school sports system.

First, the government should ban competitions during school terms and have athletes train after school or on weekends. Although teenage athletes have the right to get a proper education, most coaches force them to skip some or all classes. Athletes train in the daytime to perform better in competition or stay in a training camp to participate in competitions during school terms, so athletes take the least required class hours. All athletes should receive education to be well-balanced.

Verbal, physical and sexual abuse should be prohibited by law. We have been accepting violence and physical punishment as a necessary evil until now, which has created a vicious cycle. Young students who suffered such violence become seniors or coaches, and follow the very same practice of beating juniors and proteges.

A new school sports system that ensures proper education and protects young athletes is only the first step. Most athletes have been trained from elementary school and some of them might be behind academically. They cannot do anything except sports. What work can they live on? We should be grateful that Yonsei University, for example, hires teaching tutors for athletes in varsity basketball. This is just the first step and we still have a long way to go.

Ahn Sang-keum, teacher
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