Athletics are a big part of ASL’s culture and there is no changing that, nor is there anything wrong with it. The school’s athletic teams teach teamwork, discipline, and good fitness; that is why joining an athletic team should be mandatory.
I understand there will be a lot of critics to this request, but before the current non-athletes protest, let me explain myself.
As a freshman I joined the rugby team, having had zero experience playing rugby beforehand. Needless to say, I was awful. But I had coaches who cared about me and helped me improve. I had people on the team, my age and older, who were invested in my progress along with the progress of the entire team.
A huge benefit to this would also be the fact that this would simply make ASL’s athletic program more competitive, not that we as a school are particularly poor athletically, but we don’t exactly bring home gold from every ISST.
The implementation of this requirement will take away the need for High School Physical Education classes. The department would still exist at the Middle School and Lower School level, which is the majority of the departments classes anyway. Students would instead get their enforced, and more effective, fitness and athletic requirements from being part of a team, while courses like Personal Fitness and Sports Leadership could still be available for students who want that credit. The removal of Physical Education classes also gives students more time to do work during school hours as they would have one less requirement to fulfill, and could replace that period with a free period.
Additionally, many students already play a sport, but many teachers don’t seem to realize that. This change would mean that teachers, knowing all students have practice requirements, would have to keep this in mind when giving out assignments. Teachers would have to base the amount of work given to students knowing their practice and game schedules for sports, instead of assuming that all students have from 3:05 P.M after school to complete their work.
Of course, if everyone at the school was part of a team, coaches would have to make exceptions to less committed athletes who feel that they couldn’t attend practice before the day of a big test or project.
Agreements would also have to be made to allow time for other extracurriculars. Also, this requirement would not be for the whole year, it would be for one of the three athletic seasons.
However, the most important benefit that this reform would put forward is providing every student with the experience of being part of a team.
Being part of the rugby team taught me discipline and respect as well as creating a bond and brotherhood with everyone I stepped onto the field with in my three years of playing, which was completely unique. The team was there for me when no one else was, and I could resort to being one of them when I felt like nothing else was going for me.
I have had a similarly fantastic experience being part of the lacrosse team and know of countless others who have the same great experiences on teams like soccer, cross country, crew, and basketball.
Being on a team, apart from helping one improve physically, teaches discipline and creates a bond that cannot be replicated via any other means. Only people who have been part of a team can understand the depth of this experience and form of learning, which is the main reason I believe a semester, each year, of athletic participation should be mandatory for each and every high school student at ASL.