Sports Requirements Discourage Out of School Athletics
by Logan Troy on Friday, November 6th, 2015
At a school like Milton, where students place such a high premium on time, sports credits often interfere with everything from homework to socializing. While many athletes find the time commitment well worth their while, a large group of students struggle to live balanced lives when forced to dedicate so much time towards athletics. Milton’s unique intramural options interest some people more than the traditional, competitive, team environment. Some students receive sports credit in alternative ways, such as rock climbing, yoga, or sports waivers. These activities might seem unconventional compared to varsity sports or physical education, but they fill an important niche in Milton’s athletics program.
Some students adopt these unconventional activities to receive a sports credit that requires less time than a team, but interests them more than physical education does. Silas Monahan (II), who rock climbs for his sports credit, enjoys climbing because “it’s relaxed and you can challenge yourself every day,” something that might not be possible to do in a traditional PE class. He finds it “very convenient because Mondays and Fridays are off and there aren’t games on weekends,” so he has more time to do work and hang out with friends. Undoubtedly, programs like rock climbing provide a unique opportunity for busy students who wish to participate in an activity more demanding and rewarding than PE.
The waiver system, which allows athletes to play a sport outside of school, is another way students can receive credits. If students demonstrate a high level of athletic activity outside of school, they can receive a free pass from the additional time commitment of a Milton team. However, the standards for receiving a waiver are remarkably rigid and somewhat arbitrary. For example, the athletic department generally won’t grant a waiver unless they don’t offer the sport the student participates in. The rationale makes some sense: having all athletes specialize in a single sport would hurt the athletic department, but the rule also has several flaws. Some extremely active students exercise more in one day than PE students do in a week, but they may still have to take PE if they are not approved for a waiver. If sports credits are designed to ensure that the student body maintains an active lifestyle, forcing these students into PE classes fails to align with that goal and results in wasted time for the student and teacher. A reasonable assumption would be that anyone who fulfills a basic level of activity analogous to PE should have the ability to opt out. For a school that encourages students to pursue excellence in their passions and “Dare to be True”, Milton constructs a system that hinders amazing athletes from realizing their potential with athletics outside of school. How can someone possibly train to be the best while wasting time in PE three times a week on top of carrying a Milton workload?
No solution perfectly addresses this contradiction, but a few alterations to the waiver policy could go a long way towards supporting Milton’s athletes. Many students end their club sport careers once in high school due to the three season policy. Letting underclassmen, who must complete a sports credit every season, easily obtain a waiver would likely increase the number of students who play outside of school. These students don’t resume playing club sports when they become upperclassmen even though they have the time to, but if they never stopped playing in the first place, many more would continue playing throughout high school. This change clearly benefits many Milton teams because their players would have the extra offseason practice, and it also ends the frustration so many students have with their PE classes.
The sports credit system at Milton is certainly complex and has benefits and drawbacks. Having alternatives to PE like rock climbing or yoga improves students’ lives, but the difficulty of getting a waiver is a glaring flaw. In the end, what matters most is that the student body exercises enough and enjoys athletics. Whether each student fulfills that requirement through school sports, PE, rock climbing, or outside school sports shouldn’t matter as much as personal fitness and enjoyment.
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