The Athletic Requirement: Feeling the Pain

As a young lad, I loved playing sports. Over the years I’ve played soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and I’ve run track and cross country. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost interest in playing sports, and recently I’ve been thinking about how I will complete my required two-season athletic requirements in the Upper School. This used to not be a problem for me. I would play soccer in the fall and indoor soccer in the winter, but I lost interest in these sports. Next, I picked up cross country and track, but soon gave up on cross country. My main question now is: what are the alternatives if you aren’t athletically inclined, or if you just don’t want to play a sport? This time after school that you have to use for sports could be used at a job instead, where you are still being productive and you are making money as well. I personally feel like my time could be better spent studying or working instead of playing a sport I don’t enjoy.

“I understand why Collegiate wants us to take on athletics, but I think the two season requirement is a bit ridiculous. Forcing kids to play sports [who] might not necessarily be athletically inclined or adept is not the right way to go about it. I’m not saying I have a solution, but I know the requirement isn’t it.” said Peyton Lyons (‘16). I agree with Lyons—I would be fine with a one season requirement, but two seasons is asking more than I want to give. A one season athletic requirement would be ideal because you can get it out of the way. Grant Willard (‘16) said,  “I think the two seasons sports credit is a great idea for freshman and sophomores to stay active, but I also believe it takes time away from juniors and seniors that might want to focus on other things. A one season requirement would be sufficient for upperclassmen.” Willard is correct. As a junior or senior, you are constantly doing homework, studying, and trying to make the grade that is needed for success. Winston Willett(‘16) plays on the varsity tennis team, but gets the rest of his requirement fulfilled through completing athletic waivers and is very serious about academics. Willett said, “I think that having a two season sports requirement is an unfair intrusion on the time I need to study and do well in school.” Matt Colletti (’16) said, “I think it’s stupid and unfair. And not only because I don’t participate in sports. I don’t mind working out, like fitness. I’m the captain of the fitness team, by the way, but I think it’s unfair to those who don’t like athletics and want to pursue other activities after school. I understand the Virginia gym law, but we’re a private school so I’m pretty sure it doesn’t affect us. So I think it’s unfair.”

There are other ways to get a sports credit if you do not wish to participate in Collegiate sports. One option is through filling out a sports waiver. Page 31 of the Upper School handbook says, “In exceptional cases, waivers of the athletic/fitness requirement may be granted for a substantive, supervised activity outside of Collegiate, or for students who provide appropriate documentation that they are not able to participate in athletic activity.” The handbook then goes on to say that students have to get at least eight hours and four days of exercise each week, and that going to the gym is not a substitute.

Travis Reifsnider (‘18) said, “I think it is a good rule because it promotes physical fitness, which is good for your health, and it also helps Collegiate, which is smaller than most schools, field teams that may not be possible if everyone was not required to play two sport.” Reese Bowling (‘17), another supporter of the two credit requirement, said, “Yes, I think that not only does it encourage students to get outside and be active, but it is also a way to meet and make friends that you will know for likely the rest of your life.” Bowling also said, “I also think that Collegiate needs to give ALL students who participate in the fall and spring plays sports credit, as not only are the plays a huge time commitment, but participation in a theater production offers the same benefits to students that a sports team does.” At the moment, only juniors and seniors can receive a sports credit for participating in the play, and they only get one per year, even though Collegiate has a winter, fall, and spring play.  

Collegiate offers many sports and other ways to get an athletic credit, but couldn’t there be more options for people who don’t want to play sports? Mark Palyo, head coach of varsity football coach and Upper School Dean of Students, brought up a good point that the sports requirement helps to field teams since we Collegiate is a fairly small school compared to local public high schools. Reifsnider also brought this up. Without the sports requirement, there might be some teams that would not have enough players, which means they would not be able to compete, and kids who truly loved the sport would have to find a new one. The sports requirement definitely has its ups and downs but it does help field teams and find talent.

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About the author

Parham Alex is in High School, and is a senior