Teaching students to be 'good sports'

The Sports Experience aims to teach respect, tolerance, and good behavior through sports.

student school 88 (photo credit: )
student school 88
(photo credit: )
Well-behaved pupils now stand a chance of being rewarded with coveted tickets for a Betar Jerusalem soccer game. On Monday, Education, Culture and Sports Minister Meir Sheetrit participated in the inauguration of "The Sports Experience," a new ministry program in more than 50 Jerusalem schools that aims to teach respect, tolerance and proper behavior through sports. The inauguration ceremony, which took place at the Tali Beit Hinuch (Ironi Gimel) high school, was attended by Betar owner Arkady Gaydamak, and by members of the team. Last year, Tali Beit Hinuch undertook a project called "Fairness in Sports," which was implemented by the school's student council, and received support from the city's Youth and Social Administration and from Betar. "The idea was to use the cultural heroes of young people to influence them in a positive way," Ze'ev Alon, of the YSA, told The Jerusalem Post. "The ceremony today was the culmination of numerous class discussions in which sports have served as a means of talking about respect, hostility, and so forth. Children who didn't speak up in class for years suddenly started participating. And let me assure you, no one missed school today." This year Betar will offer free tickets to its games to pupils singled out in their schools for good behavior, community work and excellence in various fields. "One of the things we did last year was to stage a panel with journalists, sociologists and sports figures who spoke against violence in sports," student council chair Daniel Aschheim told the Post. "Sport for us is a means to an end - which is preventing violence at sports events. If pupils enjoy going to school, they won't go to soccer games to vent aggression." One of the related activities that Aschheim, a senior at the school, and the council initiated this year, he said, was a weekly general knowledge quiz whose participants were rewarded with prizes. "Instead of hearing students swearing and cursing in the corridors, you now hear kids shouting things like 'Hey, what's the name of that philosopher who claimed there was no God?'" Aschheim said smilingly. Several weeks ago, the council rewarded participants in the quiz with 200 tickets to a Betar game. Interestingly, Aschheim said, participation in the quiz continued to rise the week after the tickets were given out. During the ceremony on Monday morning, Betar players gave the school two signed soccer balls, and team members participated in a short tournament with high-school students. "Every thousand-mile journey begins with one step," Sheetrit said at the ceremony. "What is taking place here is a classic example of how the education system should function. I hope this initiative will continue not only in Jerusalem, but throughout the country."