Put yourself in your principal’s shoes. With a limited budget – where should he or she invest? The football team needs new equipment and so does the music program! Today’s post compares the return on investment for both music and football with the help of Fred Laughlin, Quaver friend and advisor, and a 2015 article from Trusteeship Magazine, “Artists, Athletes, and Governing Boards: Who Plays and Who Wins?

Take it away, Fred!

Where to Invest: Football or Music?

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Bring sports into your music classroom with this Quaver original song. Search “Last Second Goal” in the Resource Manager or ClassPlay!”

Although we doubt the readers of this blog need any support for schools investing in music, we thought you might enjoy hearing how a devoted musician and a dedicated sports fan compares a school’s return on investment in music with its return on investment in football. The author of this recent article, John Gerdy, is a former All American basketball player, a devoted guitarist, and a former associate commissioner of the Southeastern Conference.

With a deep appreciation for both music and football, Gerdy starts the article by bringing up the need to discuss our nation’s investment in football, and what its place is within our education system. Throughout the article, he mentions the enormous budgets for college football, the emphasis on winning at all costs, and the linkage between football and brain damage.

He concludes his summary of college football with a summary statement and a question:

“An open and honest debate of these issues is vital because we must make choices regarding the most effective way to invest increasingly limited educational resources. How can we determine which of those choices to pursue?”

His response was to analyze the return on educational investment of football versus music programs in our nation’s junior high and high schools.

Here are a few of Gerdy’s points when comparing the educational ROI of football vs. music programs:

  • Both help build important character traits

Both football and music can build character traits such as discipline, persistence, and personal responsibility. Both can help children gain confidence, establish an identity, and learn and practice tolerance.

  • Music encourages more creativity and decision making

Football’s mentality can become more about the end result of winning than the process of education and learning. And the pressure to win has taken decisions away from the players and given them to the coaches, thereby reducing the opportunity for players to learn creativity and wise decision-making. By contrast, individual creativity is at the core of music programs and remains to be more about the process.

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In our ClassPlay song “The Meter Zoo,” you can transform the song into one about Football by clicking the Football Song activity in the SONG HUB.

  • Music directly impacts other school subjects

Citing a 2009 study of New York public schools, Gerdy shows that playing music has a very direct impact on math, writing, logic, reading, and foreign language skills. Meanwhile, participation in football yields very few, if any, discernible academic skills, knowledge, or intellectual benefits.”

  • Music promotes lifelong learning

Both football and music have the same potential to be a  powerful community-building activity. Yet as a universal language, music provides greater opportunities for international educational opportunities and arts-integrated learning opportunities. Football is an American sport and doesn’t naturally provide the same international cultural experiences necessary to develop such skills and understanding.

Final Analysis

With all the money, time, and attention given to football in this country, I doubt many university governing boards will respond to Gerdy’s “honest debate” and drop their football programs. However, it’s comforting to hear from someone who so clearly lays out the respective returns on investment for music and football.

At Quaver, we like football, but we love music!

It’s that love of music that we want to see developed in every young person, and that’s why we work hard to equip music educators with resources that will engage students in a lifelong love of music!


What do you think? How do you see an investment in music benefiting your students and community? What’s the ROI for your school?

For more on this subject, you can read John Gerdy’s full article, here!

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