In many schools, sports like football and basketball receive more funding than theater or dance. Why, though, do people respect a number one soccer team more than the marching band getting first place in a competition?
Arts vs. Sports in History
Some attribute physical strength being preferred to the importance of strength for survival in the ancient days. Though in Ancient Greece theater and art were always still important, they “took their entertainment very seriously and used drama as a way of investigating the world,” said PBS.
The rise of sports in the United States happened around the same time as the decline of the arts — the 1920s. During this time, “many American[s] were looking for leisure time and went to see sports in stadiums,” said Rehabilitation Robotics.
An article by Hubert C. Heffner says “in the late Great Depression, theater and the arts were dispensable, and among the first to be cut out of budgets and school programs,” a phenomenon we see frequently in schools today.
“[Art is the first to get cut], usually because art programs cost more money and they aren’t required to graduate,” said The Lancer Ledger. Even though sports aren’t required to graduate either, they bring in the most money.
They bring in the most money because people care more about sports, which brings us back to our beginning question: Why don’t people care about the arts?
Arts vs. Sports at Leesville
“I feel like [Leesville] honors sports, mostly men’s sports, more than arts programs… like theatre, band, and dance,” said Liya Merkuria, a sophomore at Leesville, via text. “For example, in my apparel class, my teacher… had to buy [supplies] with her own money.”
“She had told us that the county only supplies money for supplies to last for a whole year but in apparel… [they might only last] only a semester,” said Merkuria.
Many art programs use materials daily, like in apparel, fine arts, and ceramics, and therefore go through materials quicker. Teachers and coaches shouldn’t have to use their own money and rely on donations to teach students.
“In our district, the sports teams have a yearly budget of $60,000. The arts programs get differing amounts of money depending on how the principal of the school decides to split it up, but their minimum is just less than $35,000, plus donations,” said the Raven Report.
It’s not just funding that shows the favoritism. Merkuria typed, “in general there’s more hype around football and basketball… with the students and staff.”
Arts vs. Sports Impact
“Over the last few decades, the proportion of students receiving arts education has shrunk …this trend is primarily attributable to the expansion of standardized-test-based accountability,” said Brookings.
When art programs start being set aside, students whose passion is theater or dance can’t carry out their craft. A lot of the time students can’t afford to do these activities outside of school, including sports.
When their programs aren’t getting the support they need, monetarily and in human capital not showing up, it’s hard to convince schools to spend money on these programs.
Now, to answer our question: People don’t care enough about the arts because the lack of funding, social stigmas, and lack of advertisement tells people they shouldn’t.
Changing the narrative surrounding art programs is important; when you support art programs, you also support the students and staff who work hard to show their talent and craft.