Like many other high schools across the country, East offers students the chance to participate in sports at the varsity and club levels. Between basketball, field hockey and even fencing, Wildcats are able to try out for a wide variety of teams over the course of the school year. However, the vast majority of students at East fail to take advantage of this opportunity, a trend that ought to change. Although some Wildcats may be less athletically gifted than others or may be disinterested in playing altogether, participation in sports should be made mandatory for all students due to the motor skills and teamwork experience that they provide.
In this day and age, the ability to cooperate with peers of varying abilities and ideas is necessary to succeed. Being a part of a sports team allows students to strengthen their collaboration skills and experience the feeling of holding a leadership position. Senior Alex Turner, who played football for East last fall, agrees that his time on the field has positively impacted him in several other aspects of life.
“For the most part, I played football for East because it was fun,” said Turner. “It was a good way for me to relieve stress, just being able to push people around every day. It’s definitely made me more focused off the field, in the classroom or just in my life.”
Additionally, the improved motor skills that student athletes develop over the course of their respective seasons tend to be quite useful off the field. Whether it be for intramural sports, a work softball league or simply in everyday life, the sharpened reflexes and increased spatial dexterity gained by participating in sports are extremely practical for all people.
“I played offensive line for East, so a huge part of that was using my hands and feet,” explained Turner. “People think being big means you can just overpower people, but you have to use positioning and outsmart the other player.”
Not only are these skills useful to maintain, but in certain situations they are practically essential. Cornell and Columbia University—among several other schools across the country—require students to take a physical education class and to be able to swim by the time they graduate, knowing that such abilities can be crucial for life on land or sea.
Some may argue, however, that sports are not necessary for students to build such essential skills. Certain jobs and workshops can provide opportunities to work with others, and can help one enhance their hand-eye coordination among other skills. However, this point must not take away from the fact that participation in sports in general is beneficial for all, regardless of their abilities—not all students are well-suited for certain workshops and jobs, but almost everyone can play sports. Nick Powell, a member of East’s varsity basketball team last year, agrees with Turner, and appreciates the ways by which sports have affected his life.
“Being on the team, you have to be able to communicate with other players and your coach,” said Powell. “I think basketball has helped me when I have to work with other people on projects and stuff like that in school. Plus, I just like to play, so it was a nice way for me to relax at the end of the day.”