Sports Requirements: Healthy Becomes Stressful
By MADELINE FITZGIBBON ’21
Whether on a sports team or in an art club, Milton students are able to make friendships across grades, as these spaces are open to both upper and underclassmen. However, Milton’s sports requirement eliminates the possibility of an out-of-school support system. At Milton, underclassmen participate in three sports a year while upperclassmen participate in only two. P.E. options, which can serve as a sports credit, take up about two and a half hours a week while after school sports can take up to two and a half hours per day. As a student pursuing club swimming, I can attest to how difficult it is to manage school, the sports requirement, and out-of-school-sport. Although the Milton sports requirement may be intended to promote team building and good health, it can also create stress for students trying to pursue passions that do not fit into the Milton sports program.
Despite the positive aspects of sports teams, Milton’s multi-season sports requirement generates stress for many students. Although sports waivers are an option for committed athletes, many students are turned down when they request a waiver. Because many sports and arts require year-round training, without a waiver, students are forced to quit or limit time spent to their passion, losing, in addition, a valuable support system of friends. Having friends outside of school creates an escape from academic stress.
During the school year, I swim for Milton as well as my year-round club team. During the fall and spring, I am forced to balance fifteen hours of swimming with another school sport, spending valuable time away from the pool, and I frequently skip club swim practices to complete homework. As Leydn McEvoy ‘20, another swimmer, explains: “I think it’s unfair that the school requires that you do two sports for junior and senior year even if athletes are participating daily in sports outside of school… the school is not giving us the ability to continue doing the things we love and balance all of our academic work.” Students struggle to find escapes from academic stress, and the sports requirement adds one more piece of stress by forcing students to quit or limit activities that bring them joy.
Although school sports provide great opportunities for some students, the requirement that students participate in multiple seasons adds stress for others without creating a positive impact. I value Milton as a place which challenges us all to follow our passions. An arbitrary, one-size-fits-all sports requirement seems to conflict with a place that otherwise encourages us to be unique, take risks, and pursue our dreams.