Are sports overrated extracurriculars?
January 17, 2020
Participating in sports enables skills for future
After months of early morning practices on the turf, and endless hours spent conditioning in the gym, an athlete’s grueling season can all be defined in just a few words. However, sports are bigger than training; they are about the experience.
Growing up in any high school environment, notably one with a large student body, sports are very important. This applies to most schools, especially at Coppell High School.
With a wide variety of sports available for students at CHS, they have the chance to indulge in something that can help them grow as people. The experience a sport provides is more important than going out and winning.
With sports, students are able to develop many useful skills that are beneficial as they embark through adulthood. While many high school students get into sports for the sheer love of the game, there are significant benefits from these extracurricular activities.
One of the most important skills student athletes have the ability to develop is leadership. Being a part of a team and progressing through the year, older students keep younger team members accountable and focused – having the chance to not only develop themselves but others.
“When I first started playing soccer for the school team, the older players showed me the ropes,” Coppell senior forward Clara Centeno said. “Being a senior this year, I had to step in and take charge of my younger teammates. With all of the experience I had been handed down throughout the years, it was much easier to adjust.”
Playing on a team also creates long-term social relationships, those not commmonly in a classroom setting. Having a group of people to grow around is essential in the stressful high school scene.
“My team is my second family,” Coppell senior guard Brandon Taylor said. “Some of the seniors on the team have been with me since the first time I started playing in middle school. Our bond helps us on the court, [as] being able to communicate is key when you are playing a team sport. I would not change anything with what we have.”
For many students and parents, sports can be something they may be interested in but worry about academic failure. With a set GPA standard for eligibility, student-athletes are more inclined to work harder in the classroom to those who do not care.
Although sports can be an important part of a students high school experience, it is important for one to keep in mind that their future might not be in sports. A relatively small amount of student athletes ever continue playing at the college level, and even less even make it to the professional level. Therefore, being open minded to other fields is benifecial for succeess past a sports career.
According to Florida National University, “Studies have consistently demonstrated that physically active people are not only healthier but also perform better on tests of cerebral or intellectual ability.”
This is why some athletes graduate from Ivy League and other bigger academic schools. Having the balance of graduating and competing grows character and enables them to be successful in both areas.
As time changes and humans become more unhealthy, sports have a high level of physical fitness attached. Athletes have the chance to develop a healthy lifestyle which can be very beneficial heading into college.
“Before I started playing basketball, I never knew about how unhealthy my diet had been,” Taylor said. “You feel the effects when you do not practice a healthy lifestyle on the court. Practices and games are much harder, but with basketball, now I have focused on everything I do to my body.”
Above all, sports are a chance for students to represent the community that supports them. Beyond college plans and recruitment, it gives the ability to be part of the people around you. Having the honor of representing your school, regardless of the outcome of the game.
“Going out and wearing my jersey on the court is very big for me,” Taylor said. “I would not be here without so many people, and giving back to them with my game is important. Playing sports makes me who I am and I would never change that.”
Follow Arman (@arman_merch) and @SidekickSports on Twitter.
Sports are essential but should be mediated with other extracurriculars
Being a true student-athlete is a title that can be hard to keep up. From waking up at the crack of dawn to practice spending late nights finishing up on school work, a student-athlete’s schedule can be hectic.
Coppell High School is a school that prides itself on its athletic department and achievements. With a large variety of sports to choose from, many students take up sports as their extracurriculars, which often ends up taking up a good part of their day inside and outside of school.
Because of this, students can end up being over-invested in sports, leaving little space for academics and other extracurriculars they might have participated in.
The passion for sports at CHS runs strong. Many senior student athletes have been in the same sport since freshman year and have spent countless hours on the track, field or court. Though CHS produces a good number of college-level athletes every year, a relatively small percentage of student-athletes ever end up playing in college. An even smaller amount of people end up playing professionally. In the end, many high school athletes never really benefit from the hours of training later in their lives.
I am not saying pursuing sports in high school is a waste of time. Sports are something that can instill many great qualities in a person, from teamwork and leadership to grit and determination. It can greatly develop a person socially and create bonds as well.
But the truth is, the chances one will end up using those sports skills later in life can be slim.
Sports can be great for character building, but spending all your free time on sports practice and not exploring the plethora of other activities at CHS can be detrimental.
I have played select soccer for most of my life and still have a passion for the sport. I understand the passion that goes behind sports for athletes. However, when you over-commit to only a single sport while not planning to play beyond high school, you find yourself boxed in from your potential in other activities that might have interested you.
Essentially, you are prevented from exploring yourself more, which is an important theme of high school. A student who spends all his/her time practicing football does not get time to grow in other non-athletic fields, such as writing, coding, engineering, debating or academics in general. There are many endorsement classes that you can explore in school, such as engineering or business.
Coppell senior midfielder Ben Wang has been playing high school soccer since freshman year. Wang pursues hobbies and passions outside of sports, being one of the top-ranked students in his class and taking part in several clubs.
“Even if you’re going to be a professional athlete, which is obviously really hard to do, there is always life after sports,” Wang said. “You want to kind of develop some skills and pursue some passions outside of the sport. But if that’s really what you love to do, then I don’t think there should be anything holding you back. I don’t think there should be a voice in your head that makes you pursue an extracurricular just for the heck of it.”
I have made an effort to dip my toes in different extracurriculars in the past four years, from Model United Nations to making a coding club to joining The Sidekick. And though not all extracurriculars stuck with me, I can confidently say I am a much more well-rounded person now.
Ultimately, it has greatly affected my decision to pursue computer science and artificial intelligence in college. If you asked me what I wanted to do four years ago, computer science would be one of the last things I would say.
High school does not have to be the place you find your dream job but trying different things can help narrow it down. I know people who were solely dedicated to their sports throughout high school without exploring any other fields and ended up selecting the easiest sounding or the most common major – keeping their fingers crossed and hoping they will like it. If they would have spread their wings a bit, they might have found a major they actually have a drive for.
“You never know what you’re going to be good at. You never know what you’re gonna like in the future,” Coppell track and cross country assistant coach Donald Kemp said. “You always have to have a backup plan. If you think you’re an athlete, that’s great, but you’re always going to get there’s always chance for injuries. So you never know.”
Follow Akif (@akifabidi) and @SidekickSports on Twitter.