Sports have always been a valued part of the educational experience and talented athletes have always enjoyed accolades and admiration for as long as there have been sports teams. Scientific data and research has shown that physical activity is essential for any healthy lifestyle. But without scientists and researchers we would not have such a clear picture of why physical fitness is important.
Consider this, a stadium filled with cheering fans watching athletes playing hard and winning awards. No such scenario comes to mind in the field of science, math, the arts or language studies. There aren't cheerleaders waving pom-poms for students doing difficult equations on a test or completing a difficult chem lab and yet, math and science are essential to any civilization. A person who can throw a ball accurately is paid millions of dollars but a person who can solve a difficult math equation, even a so called rocket scientist, can expect to make only about a six figure salary. A football game or baseball game is fun to watch but that is all the average person can do, watch. Whereas an inventor might provide us all with matter transporters. A researcher may find the cure for cancer. Science benefits all of society and yet it is taken for granted.
I think that it's great that President Obama is celebrating scientists and those with high academic records. There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating athletes, but we need to send the message to our kids that there is more than one way to gain notoriety and follow your dreams and talents.
No, we don't seem to place too much emphasis on sports. Yes, there is a great deal of emphasis placed on sports, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. There is a lot of value that comes from sports. At the same time, it is really nice to see President Obama and others recognize the value of science, arts and other areas of interest and achievement.
Playing sports and watching sports are enjoyable pastimes for may people. They can choose to spend their time learning more about science if they want to. More people prefer the personal accomplishment of sports. They are inspired and entertained by amateur and professional athletes more than scientists. People should not be forced to choose what they enjoy.