There has been a push this week to make sports compulsory in the school curriculum.
It is a message from federal Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie. She’s calling on each state to introduce sports as a must-do.
Speaking to the media, Senator McKenzie referenced the statistic that 81 per cent of Australian children are not getting the recommended amount of physical activity.
At present, the federal government recommends that all schools offer physical education, but it’s up to each state to decide what that looks like.
There is a difference between common practice and compulsory.
For example, Tasmania is one of only two states where swimming lessons are compulsory.
It makes sense to bring all states and all streams of schooling – public, private – into unison.
It also gets young people used to exercise. It is the beginning of good, life-long healthy habits.
Introducing exercise, sport, into a routine means it’s more likely they will continue such behaviour as they leave school and move into adulthood.
We know that the country’s obesity levels are rising at an unprecedented rate.
In Tasmania, we were ashamedly crowned the most obese state, in 2016.
The state government has introduced the Healthy Tasmania plan, which aims to transform us into the healthiest state by 2025.
Surely introducing mandatory, expert-led sport into schools would go a long way to achieving that goal.
Beyond that, it lessens the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
Involving children in sports outside of school is an expensive exercise.
There’s equipment, annual fees, uniforms, and the time commitment.
After-school sporting commitments can be a strain on household budgets, especially if there is more than one child taking part.
Bringing that opportunity to learn, craft, and compete in sporting activities into the school day means all children are on a level playing field.
Making sport a mandatory part of the Australian curriculum is not about forcing children into Olympic athlete career paths.
It is about introducing them to healthy habits, and learning new skills, both physical and social.