Photo by: Allison Stockwell and CJ Manne
I shuffle out of the pool area, my legs aching with every step and my chest burning from the 7,000 yards I just had to swim. Now I have to refocus on a different kind of struggle: my five hours of homework looming.
Unlike college athletes, high school athletes don’t get additional academic assistance for participating in a sport. I practice over 15 hours a week, and academically it means completely nothing. All high school athletes should be able to take their sport as academic credit by taking it as a seventh hour class.
Drill Team is the only sport that counts for academic credit at East. It is its own specific class, counting as a fine arts credit first semester and a gym credit second semester. In spite of this, I spend over 200 hours in the pool a season and receive no such benefits. One sport shouldn’t receive credit when the other nearly two dozen teams don’t.
If sports were able to be taken as a sixth or seventh hour, it would completely change how late athletes stay at school. Instead of getting home at 6:20 p.m. four times a week, I would get home before five, saving precious hours that I desperately need in order to finish all my homework before one in the morning.
I consider myself lucky if I can finish homework in time to get eight hours of sleep. During the swim season, sleep is a treasured activity. Sleep offers a time for me to not worry about other things and is one of the only times to relax. Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best, but with the hours of practice added with the hours of homework, that becomes impossible. Instead, I, along with the average teen, get roughly seven hours of sleep every night. With a change, all student-athletes would be able to finally get the sleep they need.
I’ll admit the gym classes that I have been forced to take have been fun, but I don’t get anything out of them. I know that some people jump at the opportunity to take team games every semester all four years, but I don’t have any interest in taking them. To me these classes are completely worthless. Even though those classes boost my GPA, they don’t impress colleges or make my chances any better to get into the college that I want.
Successful teams bring press and sponsors to the school. Just like academic awards reflect well on the school, coaches that have winning programs shows the dedication shared throughout the school. Nearly all the sports at East have been successful, adding to its athletic resume. With the change however, every sport would benefit. From bowlers to football players and gymnasts, athletes would gain more time to work on homework.
Even in the reduced amount of time for homework, athletics has been proven to help academically. In a study by Ryan Stegall, a student at Northwest Missouri State University, he found that “the group of [high school] athletes was determined to have a higher GPA, averaging 3.25. The non‐athletes averaged a GPA of 3.01, significantly lower than the athletes.” Exercise, no matter the sport, has been proven to help neurological development, helping with memory retention and focus.
Athletes should not be excluded from compensation, even if they are in high school. Even though sports are an extracurricular activity, the school greatly benefits from the side effects and should repay the students who bring that about.
We high school athletes should be assisted and compensated for the time we put in to better our school, future and ourselves. I will continue to struggle to get everything done for the time being, but I know there is a better alternative.