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The Weak Link in the Sports Chain

"I was really excited to join the sports program at School, because I knew from experience that it would be a great way to make friends and have a fun time." Photo by flickr user Sir Mervs.

Written by Margaret ’15

Sliding down a slippery slope strapped in small skis, bouncing a begrimed ball around a bumpy field, reaching for the right hold on the rock-wall––sports have been an important part of my life since I was very young. In 7th Grade, I was really excited to join the sports program at School, because I knew from experience that it would be a great way to make friends and have a fun time. Almost all of my expectations were met as Marlborough offered good coaching, great facilities and memorable seasons. I was also very happy, sports aside, to be at one of the best schools in Los Angeles. Girls should be proud to be able to represent, through sports, a School whose Core Values are Community, Excellence, Confidence and Honor. However, do sports actually undermine the value of Excellence, and, if they do, does the School plan to do anything about it?

One of the forms all athletes are required to sign is the Athlete Code of Ethics. The first thing on that list of responsibilities is to “place academic achievement as the highest priority”. With increasing frequency I have realized that this responsibility is sneaking off the list, and no one seems to be noticing. Almost every away game that a team has requires a girl to leave at around two o’clock and therefore miss her last class of the day.

First of all, this doubles the student’s homework load as she has not just the homework to complete but also the time required to make up the class, which can include meeting with a teacher, finishing the lab you missed or trying to understand a concept using someone else’s notes.

Secondly, notes do not make up for what you missed in a class. Almost no one has the same note-taking style that you do, and you are often left wondering just what exactly your teacher had been trying to say. As is the case with many classes, there are essential diagrams or presentations that the teacher gives that cannot make it onto a sheet of paper.

Third, students are in an even worse predicament when they participate in sports that don’t have a home field. For sports such as soccer, track and softball, all of the games are away, so athletes can easily miss up to two classes per week.

Lastly, the School seems to be saying that notes make up for a class, and that class, therefore, is unimportant. Obviously, this does not conform to our Core Value of Excellence. Overall, allowing students to miss class increases workload and sends a bad message from the School.

The solution to this problem is not to pay for a bigger field or to cancel away games. One suggestion is to start the games later, so that athletes would not have to miss class. I know this is possible because on rare occasions I have had a game that starts at 3:45, which allowed our team to leave school at 2:45. Another solution is to end School 50 minutes earlier on Friday and save that day for all of the matches. If all the passing periods were restored to three minutes, there would be a total of 50 minutes left over to save for this purpose. If the problem of athletes missing classes was considered seriously, I’m sure even better ideas would be put forth.

I understand the sports commitment and am very involved in it because sports are something I love to be a part of. However, I think that for a School that prides itself on Excellence, Marlborough shouldn’t allow students to make a commitment that weakens one of the Core Values of the School. Therefore, a solution should be implemented, can be implemented, and in fact must be implemented before students have to make the choice between academics and sports, two things that should be evenly balanced.