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Fair or foul?

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Kat Kochansky

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Etowah Eagles

Etowah Eagles

Haley James

Haley James

Etowah Eagles

It is 4:50 in the morning. My feet hit the cold floor, and I cannot help but wonder who had the idea to torture my team and me this early. But this is my life. This is my passion, and I would not want it any other way. For many of Etowah’s student athletes, this sounds all too familiar.  

Being a student athlete comes with plenty of challenges. Early mornings, late nights, restricted diets, and little to no free time are among the whole host of downsides to doing sports in high school. However, for many of Etowah’s athletes, being a part of a sports team is an important part of their lives. This begs the question: why? 

For senior Nate Haas, playing varsity football enriches his high school experience. 

“When you play sports, you meet a lot of friends, and there’s something about being a part of team that’s special compared to just going to school,” Haas said. 

Building lasting relationships and learning how to work well with a team helps many athletes prepare for their future.  

“Managing time is definitely the biggest challenge,” Kinsey Norton, freshman, said.  

Playing both basketball and softball keeps Norton busy. Although the addition of practices, games, and out of town tournaments can be difficult, many teachers are willing to work with athletes’ schedules to keep them caught up. To their classmates, the advantages student athletes are given seem blatantly unfair. Many athletes can cite times in their sports careers when coaches were able to have them excused from classes and work in order to focus on athletics. 

“Sometimes, as an athlete, you can get advantages like your teachers being more understanding,” Norton said.  

Other athletes admit to missing class to have snacks before practice or to meet with coaches throughout the school day. Athletes are even given prime parking to help save them time and keep them close to their team. 

“I definitely have a good parking spot based on the sports I do,” Ella Stewart, junior, said. 

Stewart’s spot at the front of the Junior lot helps her get to track practice more easily. Many football players, cheerleaders, and swimmers have parking assigned near other athletes. 

Participating in athletics, especially varsity athletics, can also help boost the likelihood of admission into prestigious universities. According to The New York Times, nearly 20 percent of students admitted to top universities are athletes. In fact, athletes who perform well enough to be recruited by universities are more than 65 percent more likely to be accepted into some top-tier schools in the United States.  

For instance, a top-ranking athlete may be admitted over a top-ranking student, even to schools like Harvard and Stanford. Does an athlete with a 2.5 GPA deserve admission to a school over another applicant with a 4.5 GPA? According to trends in admissions, yes in many cases.  

Although some students may feel that the treatment athletes receive is unfair, Etowah’s athletes feel that the so-called benefits they receive are just ways to level the field of academic competition that is so difficult to keep up with due the addition of sports practices and competitions to their schedules.  

“I don’t think there is much unfair benefit that I have experienced as an athlete at Etowah,” Stewart said. 

As Etowah’s athletes graduate, eventually retiring their cleats, shoulder pads, and goggles, the lessons they have learned and the experiences they have gained through athletics will continue with them as they work to achieve even greater things. But the question remains: are the advantages they were given necessary to their success?  

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1 Comment

One Response to “Fair or foul?”

  1. Margaret Bradley on February 4th, 2018 9:58 am

    Kat this is genius! I love how you displayed both the highs and the lows of playing sports in school. Claps for all your hardwork!!

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