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Sports Content Opens Doors to Student Engagement

Posted on November 27 2022

Sports Content Opens Doors to Student Engagement


Dear Educator,

This week, we are inspired to focus on sports and sports figures as a way to help students practice essential skills. Geography News Network, our weekly series of articles, is ideal for any classroom to help students read. The means for students to be lifelong learners is through reading. Yes, they have to have passion and interest. But without sound reading skills, they cannot keep expanding their world. In fact, social studies is closely tied to English language arts because reading skills are essential to studying such subjects as history and geography. Science, while often learned through hands-on labs and demonstrations, is also absorbed through text and explanations that require solid reading skills.
Given that many students play sports themselves or follow various sports as a hobby, providing articles on topics in sports encourages student interest in reading. Students often do not encounter enough material that is of interest to them, composed with writing geared for their skill level. At Maps101, we provide weekly articles to combat these issues. Without further delay, let the games begin!
Like the rest of the United States in the 1940s, baseball was segregated by race. Major League Baseball (MLB) was the Big Leagues and was for whites only. The Negro Leagues were separate. Jackie Robinson got his start in the Negro Leagues, but Branch Rickey, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers in MLB took notice of Robinson’s skills and signed him to the team. Robinson excelled, and pro baseball took its first steps toward integration, well before the civil rights movement would do the same for the general population in the 1960s.

While Blacks were not always welcome to play at the highest levels of professional sports, women too have had unequal standing in the sports world—and continue to. They consistently have not earned the high pay that their male counterparts enjoy. This article explores the gender inequality that led to Title IX legislation that has been used to aid women’s sports in school. The article poses questions about women’s roles in sports, that will likely lead to robust classroom discussions.


Now let’s focus on a specific woman in sports: U.S soccer star Megan Rapinoe. As co-captain and forward, Rapinoe led the U.S. women’s team to win the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final. She was the overall top goal scorer, as well. In addition, she has been vocal about paying female soccer players the same as males in the sport. Students will learn more about this remarkable sports figure in this exclusive GNN article.


You may be surprised to discover that the sport with one of the highest risks of serious injury is cheerleading. Cheerleaders use gymnastic and acrobatic skills that require athletic training. It also poses high risk of severe injury. The stunts cheerleaders do can lead to kicks in the head, and worse, being dropped onto hard surfaces. While cheerleading doesn’t necessarily have MORE injuries than other sports, the injuries can be longer lasting or debilitating. This article explores the rough-and-tumble world of cheerleading.


Gymnast Simone Biles was under tremendous pressure in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan—held in 2021, because of COVID-19. She qualified in all five individual final events and held a spot in the team competition; however, she gave up her spot on the team event and competed in only one individual event. Why? Gymnastics can be very dangerous. Her mental health wasn’t where she needed it to be to compete at the top level of her sport. For her safety, she pulled out of events. She also helped focus attention on athletes and their mental health. This article discusses Biles and other athletes who have come out from behind the veil of secrecy to reveal their own mental health issues, including another Olympian, Michael Phelps. The end of the article lists signs of depression from the Mayo Clinic. You can use this article to jumpstart a conversation with your students about pressure and mental health.


We hope you have enjoyed this mini-sample of Maps101 that focuses on sports in Maps101. The featured resources above will give you an idea of the type of content available with your subscription. We hope your weekly tour of topics in the GeoJournal helps not just inform you of themes you can focus on throughout the year, but that it also draws your attention to content you may not have realized is available. Happy hunting for more content that benefits your class this school year. And don’t forget to favorite to save what you use often for easy access.

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