Story by Matthew Tsai
Illustration by David Sohn
My sister Isabella wanted to watch High School Musical 3: Senior Year on my eighth birthday. Outweighed by 25 pounds and standing four inches shorter, I had no choice but to obey her. She happily popped in the DVD as I sat on the couch, preparing myself for the two hours of torture ahead of me.
To my surprise, I was immediately hooked, as the East High Wildcats took to the hardwood against rivals West High Knights in the championship basketball game. When Troy Bolton willed the Wildcats to victory while singing “Now or Never,” I knew that I couldn’t wait to do the same for my future high school.
Fast forward eight years and I now realize that High School Musical 3 is a complete lie. Since entering my junior year, I’ve come to find myself in a love-hate relationship with high school basketball. Coaches always preach, “You get out what you put in,” but despite over 850 hours in the gym, on the track, and in the weight room, there have been no championships, celebrations, or girls singing in the stands saying they believe in me. And there isn’t an easy way out because there’s a societal pressure for athletes to play for all four years.
Freshmen come into high school, optimistic and excited for sports. It’ll provide them with a group of friends, an extracurricular to put on college applications, and something to talk about; sports give students an identity and without them, many wouldn’t know how to proceed. But South Pas athletics isn’t like High School Musical. It’s a demanding life and this social pressure confines students in the sports program, pushing them to play through their senior year just to fit in.
But no matter what it means for their social life, high school is far too short for people to be wasting time on something they don’t have a passion for. However, I don’t hate sports and I’m not lobbying for athletes to quit. I keep playing because I love the game of basketball and the friends I’ve made through it, but I’m positive that many student-athletes don’t share the same sentiment. People need to place their own desires first and do whatever makes them happy. Don’t just stick to the status quo.