The Mumbai School Sports Association (MSSA) created a Facebook page in the hopes of getting kids away from classroom furniture and out on the sports field. Savio Abraham, Director of Administration at the MSSA explained that the idea of going on Facebook originated with the President of the MSSA, Fr. Jude Rodrigues.
“Rodrigues wants MSSA to be interactive with the students who play out there. And since everyone is on Facebook, we thought it was the best way to promote sports,” Abraham explained.
Rather than sitting behind a reception desk and explaining what they do, they hope that the Facebook page will reach out to 360 schools in the Mumbai region. The MSSA also wants to connect with people who played sports with the MSSA in the past. The alumni are actually the ones that add the most to the page, sharing stories about the games that they participated in.
Another goal of the page is to get much needed publicity. Not so long ago the MSSA attracted spectators in the thousands. Today the MSSA feels lucky if even 100 people show up for a game. Hopefully, if students are hooked into Facebook, they will be more inclined to get on a bus to a game to cheer on their school’s team, like what was done in the past.
One last challenge for the MSSA is to get their field covered in artificial turf instead of dirt. Such an undertaking will most like “revolutionize school sports in Mumbai,” Abraham says.
Many historians mark the beginning of organized school sports with a Dallas football game that took place on October 12, 1900. That game was played between the Wall School of Honey Grove against Saint Matthew’s Grammar School at the home turf of Matthew’s, who also won the game 5-0. Until this moment most boys played sports on the fly- taking over an empty field, or alleyway and playing against other equally loosely affiliated groups of students. Needless to say there was much cheating and fighting taking place.
It did not take much for schools to get in the picture. It began with upper-crust private schools, but then wound its way down to the proletariat in the public schools. In order to get the boys away from their classroom desks, in 1903 New York City began its Public School Athletic League. They held a track-and-field festival for 1,000 boys on the day after Christmas in the great Madison Square Garden.
Concurrent with the rise in school organized sports the US was beginning to extend the years of free education for their children, more years than in most other countries. This period also saw a huge rise in the arrival of immigrant population on US shores. The ruling class was afraid that all this “education” would make Anglo-Saxon boys weak and soft, poorly comparable to their strong, athletic, newly arrived peers. The great Oliver Wendell Holmes Senior was afraid that the nation’s cities were being filled with “stiff-jointed, soft-muscled, paste complexioned youth.”
Here is where school sports could save the day. Not only would sports protect the boys’ reputations as strong and masculine; sports had the added bonus of distracting them from the twin vices of gambling and prostitution. The term “Muscular Christianity” was coined during the Victorian era, and recommended engagement in sports as a kind of “moral vaccine” against the upheaval of rapid economic growth.
“In life, as in a foot-ball game,” Theodore Roosevelt wrote in an essay on “The American Boy” in 1900, “the principle to follow is: Hit the line hard; don’t foul and don’t shirk, but hit the line hard!”
There are many high school sports movies. Probably one of the most classic one is ‘Remember The Titans.’ Based on a true story the new school coach who is African-American has to deal with a popular white coach. This is pretty tough for the coach (played by Denzel Washington) given that the football team’s first season as a racially integrated unit. Ultimately the coach tries to win the kids’ respect through discipline and hard work. The movie teaches that lessons can be learned both in and out of the classroom.