Sporting events need to be pushed to out of school hours

Dani Wallace, Features Editor

You’re sitting in third period, but your mind is on the court, envisioning the final score of the upcoming game. You already told your teacher that you’re leaving an hour before dismissal, but as you get up to leave you can’t help but wonder if you’re going to miss any important classwork. Leaving class early for high school sports events happens daily, and it’s a real issue.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 57 percent of high schoolers participate in one or more extracurricular sports. These activities impact students’ lives in numerous ways: physically active people are more likely to lead a healthier lifestyle, especially when they begin exercising during their impressionable teenage years. Active people are much less likely to suffer from obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other medical conditions. They also have an enhanced perception of self-worth and are 15 percent more likely to pursue a postsecondary education. Overall, students seem to reap the physical and academic benefits of participating in organized sports during the school year.

According to one survey by Education Weekly, the average high school student receives about 42 minutes of homework per class, or roughly 3 hours of work for four classes. Regardless of whether or not students at Jackson-Reed receive the same workload, trying to balance your athletic and academic performance with your social life, sleep, mental health, and physical health is extremely difficult—particularly when a student’s athletic commitments start bleeding into the school day.

Learning interruptions seriously inhibit academic performance: the accumulation of classroom disruptions, such as intercom announcements, staff visits, and, especially, leaving for sports events, results in an annual loss of over 20 days of instructional time. Less time in class translates to less material learned, which means performances on tests tend to drop.

As someone who plays volleyball inside and outside of school, I am often forced to skip some of my most important classes. Jackson-Reed’s volleyball team typically has a scrimmage during the first week of school, meaning we have to leave classes during the crucial introductory week. As a consequence, I found myself struggling to catch up on what should be the easiest part of the school year, while introducing myself to my classmates much later than I otherwise would have.

Being a student-athlete is very beneficial; it allows kids to play the sport they love, meet new people, and interact with a wider community that shares common goals. However, losing precious class time to participate in sports puts student-athletes at a disadvantage. Better scheduling is an easy solution to these disruptions. 

Given the many physical and social advantages of physical activity, our school should encourage kids to participate in sports. However, scheduling sporting events during the school day does just the opposite. We shouldn’t have to choose between being students and being athletes. •