Opinion: Joining school sports is a prerequisite for college applications


Credit: Nathan Crozier

WSPN’s Nathan Crozier discusses the pressure to join a winter sport for college applications.

Nathan Crozier

Why must every single thing I do have to be for college applications? I’m unable to play sports for fun without turning it into a joyless activity that I do. I’m pressured to play a sport just to write one more thing on the extracurriculars list for my college application. I wish others would finally enable me to play sports just because I find them enjoyable.

During this fall season, I participated on the cross country team at Wayland High School. I joined the team because my father pushed me to play a sport simply to write it on a college application. After all, he always claimed that colleges love to see students with diverse skill sets, and participating in sports is the best way to show it.

My time on the cross country team ended in a travesty. During my first practice I injured my ankle because I wasn’t prepared for the rigor of a high school sport. I had joined the team out of the blue without the summer practice other team members had and paid the price. The entire season I wasn’t able to run even once. Instead of telling me to take time for myself and heal, my father started talking about joining track and field for the winter because colleges loved to see it. I felt so degraded, as here I was injured and not enjoying cross country, and now I was being pressured to join yet another sport involving running. Track and field feels like just a continuation of cross country, so what’s the point of doing it?

Whenever I went to school, I was surrounded by high-achieving athletes eager to put their sports on college applications. They would ask me what sport I was playing in the winter. Whenever I would respond by saying that I wasn’t going to join one, I felt like my decision was not valued.

Hearing the judgment from other students was absolutely gut-wrenching. I felt ashamed that I had made the wrong choice in putting my needs before a sport. It felt like I wasn’t going to go anywhere in life, all because I chose not to join a single sport in high school. This pressure from others made me believe that I wasn’t fulfilling the expectations of others, especially at such a rigorous school. I’m sick of the expectations.

I am no longer able to join sports just to have fun socializing with others. If students aren’t joining a sport, colleges will see them as lazy and unambitious. By enforcing this extreme perception of joining sports just for college applications, social pressures are stripping the joy that sports provide students, and replacing it with stress and anxiety. The widely accepted belief is that if student-athletes aren’t the best at sports, then they’re failing.

I feel as though I must join a sport and excel in it, otherwise colleges will never accept me. Sports don’t seem like an elective, they’re a necessary item in an endless college application checklist.