No matter how many options one can have, there will always be one that stands out over the others. This goes for anything, but in this case, it is especially a problem when it comes to school clubs, which are overlooked compared to the much more popular varsity and junior varsity sports teams. In AIS there are about 30 clubs, as well as 30 sports teams to take part in all throughout the year. In school, people choose sports over many extracurricular activities for a variety of different reasons, namely sports trips, and possible pressure from their friends.
As IB English teacher Peter Van Egeren lamented, “It’s hard to teach through a class when half of the kids are gone on sports trips”, which raises an interesting point of why many students play sports: they get to skip school. If a student is taking part in a sport during all three seasons, they miss on average seven days of school simply from sports alone. In addition, if the student is on the varsity team for any given sport, the student might even spend ten or eleven days away from school. This hurts their classes’ progress as a whole, but can also damage the students’ academic life. One of the guidelines at AIS states that a student is allowed to have 20 absences throughout the course of the year. However, if 21 absent days roll around, they must meet with the high school principal along with the students’ parents. With certain classes going on field trips to downtown Vienna every few weeks that thins the classes even more, and adds more absentee days to student-athletes.
In addition, students play sports because some of them are more concerned with being with their friends than doing what they like. Although it’s not common, I’ve seen students who, when faced with a choice between a sport their friends play and something they’re more skilled at, choose their friends. This is unfortunate, because instead of popular sports with too many athletes, we could potentially have numerous teams with great players doing what they like to do.
In addition, one of the downsides of sports is that they take students away from clubs. For every one student that goes to a club, another three go to a sport. This shows that not only are people not going to clubs and taking part in them, but that it may be in large part due to their participation in sports. To contrast my first point, out of the thirty clubs AIS offers, only three to four have a trip or travel commitment; excluding Habitat for Humanity, these trips are also usually only one to two days long. Overall, the kids have gravitated towards sports, and if they don’t make the team, usually do not take part in any club. Unfortunately, this practice perpetuates small clubs and popular sports teams.
While sports at AIS are a great outlet for extracurricular activity and beneficial to many, we might need to take a closer look at how they negatively affect our students, classes, and possibly other extracurriculars at AIS.