Sports in Schools — how significant are they?

Schools began to get increasingly interested in sports and games. This, I am convinced, was the result of CBSE’s categorical directions regarding the induction of a regular sports period into the time table.

Appreciably, there are schools which already had infrastructure for sports and games along with the sports teachers and regrettably, there were schools who had to abruptly rise up to the challenge that the CBSE circular posed.  Whatever the case, finally the sports infrastructure got relatively upgraded in CBSE schools. Having said that, it is a fact that schools are still grappling to fall in line with the CBSE’s directions about standardization of sports and games.


Let me make a statement of the obvious, sports are indispensable for an institution that prepares a student for life and that is not because the CBSE says so and presses for compliance. It is because every educational philosophy or school of thought has invariably emphasized the significance of sports and games right from the preschool level to the higher levels of schooling, not to speak of the emphasis given by men of medicine and health experts on physically intensive sports.

What makes play and sports so important in schools?

The fact that field sports and games aid in the development of the physical constitution is widely recognized. What is lesser known or recognized is the fact that the physical activity that the sports involve help in cerebral development i.e. development of the brain. In addition to that sports activities bring about desirable psychological traits in children and adolescents in absence of which they are prone to behavioral patterns which are maladaptive and even destructive.

In early to mid-childhood the fundamental development of motor skills occur. This development is very noticeable. The development of cognitive and social skills happens parallel to the development of motor skills. This development is critical for the later development of cognitive skills that takes place between seven to twelve years of age this includes the development of working memory or short-term memory, speech, comprehending symbols or cognitive flexibility.

This stage also sees the development of inhibition control which gives the potential to not indulge in impulsive behavior. Capacity to be attentive and selective attention and distraction also develop at this stage. Rapid brain development and changes in the grey matter and white matter density occurs at the preadolescence stage i.e. 10 to 12 years. Development also implies changes and exposure to the influences of the environment. All these changes reflect on sensitivity towards environmental challenges where sports give them an outlet. The brain development is genetically determined but environmental factors play a role too and sports comes in as a mechanism to translate the resulting psychological changes in a positive direction. Some studies also suggest that sports can even accelerate brain development aiding deductive and logical thinking to manifest.

‘All work and no play’ scenario

We all have heard the adage all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It is indeed quite close to the truth. Physical activity is a decisive factor in future physical health, physical activity of the late childhood is even more important as there are cultural factors, in our age its IT and computers that keep children away from physical activity. If physical activities are omitted from the routine the development of perception is arrested and the likelihood of developmental disorders rises because the blood circulation needed to supply the oxygen to the brain is not effectively stimulated. This is in addition to the very obvious and much talked about conditions including obesity, posture complications, stunted physical growth etc. The finest way to ensure that the physical activity becomes part of the routine of children and adolescents is their initiation into games and sports which with their competitive dimension ensure the development of interest over time. That is exactly what the schools are supposed to do in this matter. The sports period can ensure that every child takes an interest in games and sports of his choice. To offer choice is incumbent upon the school administration. 

School System and Sports

Physically intensive sports have seen a declining trend since the late twentieth century and with the advent of IT and digital age, the definition of indoor games have found a completely different meaning.

Schools organize sports meets and felicitate the participants but that sports have been relegated to margins with intensive and even exclusive attention given to academics cannot be denied.

It is not symbolic attention to sports that is now being expected of schools it is the sincere regularity and equating sports with students’ health that is being sought by the education boards.

Now the schools need to diversify their sports inventory. Providing cricket kit and leaving children on their own to take turns and while away time in the playground will not do. K-12 schools need sporting infrastructure for football, volleyball, basketball, and even field and track athletics. For that to happen schools have to equip their sports stock and manage the wear and tear very efficiently and recruit games teachers with credentials and fitness to inspire students. CBSE has declared this in no uncertain terms and every other board will follow suit.

Schools build futures and the way professions are becoming more demanding and taxing, they have the duty to give students a balanced growth so that their health can withstand the demanding lifestyle that lay in wait for the majority of them regardless of the academic success.


Vinod Kakumanu

Vinod Kakumanu

Founder & Consultant - School Serv

Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.

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