NIEHOFF: Sports, arts essential to well-being

The question this week has been, “How do we move forward and begin to see our world through a different lens?” We know that each person, each group, each organization must do their part to end racial injustice in our nation, and the NFHS stands ready to do its part.

And, first and foremost, with high school sports and performing arts grounded since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first step in the process of making a difference, creating change and doing our part is the safe and healthy return of students to these programs.

Education-based sports, performing arts and other activity programs are essential to the health and well-being of high school students. More than ever before, these programs are crucial and can be a way for students, coaches, parents, fans, officials and others to heal and move forward.

In fact, during the stressful times of the pandemic, many high school students have demonstrated the healing power of performing arts. In the “Arts Education is Essential” statement signed by the NFHS and 52 other national organizations recently, the value of these programs during the national health crisis was highlighted.

The healing and unifying power of the arts has been evident as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country.

We have seen and heard it play out through works of art on sidewalks, shared musical moments from porches, in plays and dance performances, and every other imaginable iteration of art making. As states and schools work through multiple challenges in the years ahead, arts education must remain central to a well-rounded education and fully funded to support the well-being of all students and the entire school community.

We are cautiously optimistic that very soon after three months on the sidelines, talented arts students and students in athletics programs will be back in action. In fact, the first steps back will occur next week when high school baseball and softball contests return in Iowa. As state associations are formulating their timelines for the return of activities, they must balance the enthusiasm for return of competition, and the health and safety of not only the students, but coaches, officials and others.

Many states are developing a phased-in approach to resuming athletics and activities, and we applaud the efforts of all state associations as they work toward a safe return to these programs. At the school level, in addition to devising safety guidelines for activity participants, there is another potential challenge looming.           

Undoubtedly, at some point, schools will be impacted by the economic downturn from the pandemic that has affected every American in some fashion. We have seen extensive cuts of sports at several universities, and there have been a couple of reports of high schools considering trimming sports from the school budget.

Perhaps it has been said by previous leaders, but sports, performing arts and other activities are needed by high school students now more than ever before. Activities maximize the social growth of students, and we urge school superintendents and school boards to retain these programs. High school students need these programs, and communities across the country need these programs.

As we said last week, there is no better national voice than high school sports and performing arts programs, where opportunities exist for boys and girls of all races, all religions, all levels of ability to work together, to trust each other and to eventually make a difference in our nation.

Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is in her second year as executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan sees 113,863 cases, 6,623 deaths

Cassopolis

Cass County to partake in annual Crop Hunger Walk

Brandywine Education

Performing Arts Workshops launches memorial fundraising campaign

News

Court of Appeals rules secretary Benson acted lawfully in mailing absentee voter ballot applications to registered voters

Dowagiac

SMC welcomes new dean of business, advanced technology

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Elks to host annual Guys & Dolls Golf Outing

Cass County

Michigan Works! closes central office, opens three new locations

Berrien County

MSP traffic stop data reveals need for deeper study

Berrien County

Ballard staff member tests positive for COVID-19

Cass County

Two arrested on meth charges in Pokagon Township

Berrien County

Lakeland Heart and Vascular earns testing reaccreditation by IAC

News

Court of Appeals: Absentee ballot mailers were lawfully distributed

Cassopolis

Our Father’s Family Keeper Ministries helps families in need during pandemic

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan sees 113,863 cases, 6,623 deaths

Berrien County

PACE of Southwest Michigan celebrates National PACE Month, anniversary

News

City of Niles to begin hydrant flushing on Sept. 21

Giving

Niles Salvation Army hosting virtual fundraiser

Business

New furniture chain ready to serve Michiana

News

Niles City Council votes to combine police, fire chief positions

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan sees 113,183 cases, 6,612 deaths

Dowagiac

Dowagiac City Council authorizes construction of new DUS parking lot

Buchanan

Buchanan City Commission accepts treasurer’s resignation

News

No solutions reached for Niles Skate Park

Cass County

Local health official awarded for community work