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Arianne Brown: Athletic aptitude is as valuable as academic prowess
All too often children who excel in athletics yet struggle academically are seen as unintelligent. Recently, my youngest daughter had an experience that illustrates this point. Athletes are not dumb but are in fact geniuses in their own right. - photo by Arianne Brown
Recently, my 6-year-old daughter, Azure, was sitting at the computer when some instructions popped up that required some reading that she had difficulty doing herself. As she should do, Azure asked for some help.

At the time, we were visiting family, and one family member jokingly said with a laugh, What? She doesnt know how to read? But she knows how to do a back handspring. Who are her parents?

Now, I know this family member well enough not to take offense, and I know my daughter enough to have confidence that in due time the whole reading thing will eventually click like it has with all my children. What he said, however, did cause me to think.

Azure, like all my children, is a natural athlete. She comes from parents who are athletes who competed at a collegiate level, as well as some uncles, aunts and grandparents who did the same. Much of our family time is spent being active, fully immersing her and all our children in an active lifestyle.

All of these things combined have caused her athletic aptitude to be higher yes, higher than her aptitude for other things such as reading, math and science.

And thats OK.

Having a child with a high athletic aptitude does not mean that he or she is dumb. I would never look at a child who excels in math but cannot do a flip and point out his inability to do so. Yet some people see academic prowess as something that should be esteemed more highly than a persons ability, inclination or need to perform athletically.

Why? Is it because athletics are seen as too easy? Is it because they are thought of as unnecessary, or perhaps a waste of time? All of the above?

Let me tell you that athletes are not dumb; they are smart. The term dumb jock should never have been a term to begin with because even if the core content areas of math, language arts or science are a struggle, there is an area where that jock is a genius.

As a mother of athletes and as someone who values education, I pray that my children will find success in all areas. More than anything, I hope that each of my children will feel smart. And I hope that the next time any of them ask for help in an area of academic struggle, they will receive assistance without their athletic ability being called into question.

Now, if youll excuse me, I have a back handspring to spot.
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