Story by Kahlen Miao
Illustration by Alicia Zhang
At a young age, many students have the opportunity to play sports purely for fun through programs such as AYSO, Little League, and the YMCA. These programs provide a fun and friendly space for kids to enjoy exercising outside while interacting with their peers. However, these opportunities disappear as students grow older and enter high school and kids can no longer play sports in a laid-back setting.
This is due to the competitive nature of high school sports. Sports require a lot of after- school dedication that many students cannot afford to give and pressures students to exert more effort for the sake of winning instead of for fun. This can cause students to forget why they enjoyed playing sports in the first place.
“I realized that I wasn’t as passionate about sports as I used to be,” sophomore Abigail Greene said. “I felt embarrassed that I was constantly being judged for my skill and became self conscious about it with so many eyes on me. Overall I just didn’t have the time to commit to a sport so I ended up focusing my time and energy on other things.”
Although there are different levels at which students can participate, such as frosh-soph, junior varsity, and varsity, they are all almost as equally competitive and require just as much time. The lack of SPHS’s recreational teams prevents students from participating in sports for sheer enjoyment and exercise. The expectation that students will play all four years and work their way throughout the various levels discourages students from joining the base level for fun.
Competition also establishes a hierarchy based on skill among the players. For players who enjoy playing sports competitively, it can be a good setting for them. But for students who do not participate in sports for the competition, it can be an unwelcoming and unhealthy environment.
The two options for playing high school sports are to play competitively or to not play at all. However, despite the pressure that students face to compete in sports, students
should know that sports can still be enjoyable without the intense rivalry. Without competition, sports can be a way for students to collect peace of mind, relax, and improve their overall wellbeing.
Many students who want to stay active without the pressure to constantly succeed would benefit from recreational sports. If students want to play a sport but are not competitive, they should not be discouraged from participating in school sports. By implementing intramural sports, SPHS would become a welcoming place for student athletes who seek to play sports for the pure enjoyment of a physical activity and not just to win.
Without the intimidation of competition, recreational sports would encourage students of all athletic abilities to participate. It is important that students have the chance to play sports leisurely in high school so that it sets a strong foundation that presents the importance and enjoyment of exercise.