A Juggling Act: Student Athletes at Milton
By SERENA FERNANDOPULLE ’19
I’m sitting at my desk at 11 PM with the light from my computer burning my eyes. The words on my English book swirl off the page. I have a new bruise on my foot from soccer that stings each time I take a step. I look at my planner and realize I have three full subjects of homework left.
This scene is a daily occurrence for me. I think I share this experience with many other students at Milton. In my 4 years here, I have found it increasingly difficult to juggle both academics and athletics at Milton. Milton should make it easier for students to be both athletes and students. Sports and academics don’t have to be mutually exclusive. We should change our culture of expecting nothing less than excellence in both athletics and academics, and instead encourage more people to participate in sports by not perpetuating a social divide.
In both academics and athletics alike, we are told that we should aim for perfection: that we should always work harder and better. In school, we are expected to spend hours studying for that math test while also putting in 100% in practice. This attitude of perfection is great in the short term because we can see the results. However, the problem with constantly going full throttle is that, by the time graduation comes around, student-athletes have exhausted themselves both academically and athletically. Both school and sports make me happy, and my biggest fear is that, in attempting to give my full energy to both areas, I will stop enjoying these important parts of my life. Some may say that it is part of life to make sacrifices to do all that you love. I agree to some extent; however, high school doesn’t have to be as intense as we make it. In the end, we are all just motivated 14 to 18 year olds who believe we can do basically everything. Should we really have to chose between finishing our homework or getting five hours of sleep so that we can perform in our game the next day?
Sports have been a major part of my life since I was little. At age four, barely able to kick the ball two feet ahead of me, I started playing soccer on my Cambridge town team. People of all backgrounds were on my youth teams for both soccer and lacrosse. However, as I have gotten older, the sports world seems to have narrowed. Whether it be a result of differences of socioeconomic status, race, or just self selection, I think that the athletic community has become further separated from the larger community. Especially at Milton, the presence of varsity sports further perpetuates the divide between “athletes” and non-athletes. I’m not saying that I don’t love varsity sports. However, I have seen that the disconnect between the academic culture and athletic culture, and this disconnect makes it harder for students to manage both together. I think that the athletic community should be widened, not narrowed, so that the academic and athletic communities aren’t as separate. Also, sports teach important life lessons like teamwork, grit, and leadership, so deterring students from participating in them only serves to hurt the student body.
Milton is a rigorous school, and being a student-athlete is not easy. I think that we could gain so much more by having a more balanced approach to athletics and academics. High school is the time to experiment and do what you love, so students should be able to participate in both sports and school in a manageable way.