The Daytona Beach News-Journal published an article today about a group of New Smyrna Beach High School students who wanted to start a surf club. The school district’s answer? No. Apparently the idea of permitting a school surf club in one of the top surfing spots in the state has been weighed in the scales and found wanting.
According to the school district it’s a question of liability. But what about tackle football? Between 2005 and 2014 92 student deaths have been attributed to this sport. The NFL recently settled a class action lawsuit for almost $1 billion for injuries related to the sport. Frontline recently reported that the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University have now identified the degenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in 96 percent of NFL players that they’ve examined. Despite these obvious risks football has the district’s full-throated support. The district recently promised $500,000 to the city of New Smyrna Beach to upgrade the bleachers of its football stadium.
The point isn’t to single-out football but rather show that both surfing and football entail certain risks yet for whatever reason the district says no to one and yes to the other – end of story.
A Sudbury school would tell a different story. Because a Sudbury school is governed as a democracy the students and staff would have the ultimate say on whether or not to sponsor a surf club. Students at a Sudbury school who wanted a surf club might make their case using the same guidelines and legal documents utilized by the Melbourne High School surf club. Perhaps the students would ask the advice of a top local attorney. Perhaps they would consult with one of the world’s leading independent insurance intermediaries that just happens to be located right here in Daytona Beach. Whatever they did it would be up to them to figure out how to organize the club and then persuade their fellow students and staff that they have thought through the process and appropriately managed the risk.
Whether a Sudbury surf club is ultimately approved or not is beside the point. What matters is that Sudbury students are free to take on the responsibility if they want and through the process learn a multitude of skills that will equip them for the real-world.