Reasons to Play a Sport in High School
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By Darian Brooks

A question I always receive as a consultant is regarding whether or not to play a sport through high school. The answer is not always simple since every student’s situation is different. Therefore I will layout some reasons why students should or should not choose to participate in a sport during those important years.

Reasons to play a sport:

  • Vested Interest


      • Clearly if a student is a top recruit in your sport, continue to play. Even if they are not, but have spent years in the sport and love to play, they shouldn’t stop doing something that brings them joy if it doesn’t interfere with academics (you may even find yourself playing or joining a club centered around the sport in college).

  • Leadership development


      • Playing on a team give students the opportunity to take on a leadership role. As teammates, students can learn what characteristics of a leader truly work. Students also may have the opportunity to become team captain and implement what they’ve learned from the leaders before them.

  • Friendship


      • Sports are the easiest way to find friends that share a similar interest. Clearly if you both are on the team, you both are interested in the sport! Working hard side by side with a teammate while defeating (or being defeated by) opponents strengthens bonds between teammates that will show outside of the playing field. Playing on a recreational team also enables students to become a part of another community and have friends from other schools, teams, cities, states, and even countries (with international tournaments or travel, of course).

  • Fitness


      • Maintaining a healthy level of fitness is extremely important for high school students. It can help to relieve stress and take their minds off of the struggles they may be facing for an hour or two. A refreshed mind will produce more effective thoughts and strategies to overcome obstacles.

  • Representing one’s school


      • Taking down rival schools and having the rest of the school as support cheering and watching is a motivating feeling. Students will naturally have more school spirit as an athlete and have pride in saying they attended their high school.

  • Student – Athlete awards


    • Student-athletes also can receive awards from the school, league, division, or state for their efforts on or off the field. Having great grades as an athlete does not go unnoticed or unrewarded! On an even bigger spectrum is the opportunity for scholarships from Division I or II Universities.

There are so many positive reasons to become a student-athlete. However, there are also reasons students should not play sports. If a student is putting athletics above their academics causing grades to decrease, a change to the student’s habits need to happen or the student needs to leave the team. At all levels of schooling (including college) “student” comes before “athlete” in student-athlete. When it come to high school student-athletes looking to apply to colleges, they must remember that admissions considers a sport to be an extra-curricular activity meaning having a sport on an application will look great, but all other parts of the application dealing with academics and testing must also be up to par. Universities want students that can handle their curriculum and have academics as their priority because those are the students that will fully commit and complete their degree.

Students should also avoid playing a sport simply if they aren’t interested in it! High school is a time to explore things the student has an interest in. There is no point wasting time joining the soccer team if the student dislikes soccer. Also, there is no reason to play a sport if the student truly doesn’t care to play a sport.

Overall, I encourage students interested in a sport to play if they can handle the time commitment and keep their grades at or above the level in which they would be without the sport added to their workload. Students that can handle it will develop skills and create friendships that will stay with them for life.