Importance of commitment in school athletic programs

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  Girls varsity soccer practices for upcoming game as commitment in many sports on campus declines. (Photo by Maddie Greene)

Girls varsity soccer practices for upcoming game as commitment in many sports on campus declines. (Photo by Maddie Greene)

Athletic teams on campus have seen a decline in commitment, specifically from underclassmen. Not as many students are going out for sports and if they are, then they are not making practices. Athletic director John Philipopoulos has seen that students are not giving sports their full commitment or not participating in sports all together.  

“I have seen a trend over the last couple years where we are seeing commitment issues with our student athletes,” Philipopoulos said.

Many factors play a crucial role in the decline of participation in Burlingame. Students are simply not prepared for the time and responsibility high school sports demand. Balancing school and sports in an environment like Burlingame is hard for a student athlete.

“[Being part of a high school team] was hard to get used to, we never had it that way in middle school,” said Neha Brandrapalli,a member of the freshman volleyball team.

Brandrapalli went on to explain that going from two practices a week to five or six practices a week can be a lot of pressure for a new student facing a different atmosphere.

Another reason students are not putting their all into high school sports is that they are involved in too many activities on and off campus.

“Students are committed to so many things that in essence they are committed to nothing,” Philipopoulos said.

Because the number of people applying to college is hitting record numbers, the pressure to get into college is more competitive than ever. For some, this way to stand out is putting themselves in too many activities for a single person to handle.

“Especially with highly competitive college sports, high school athletes in our area feel loaded with pressure to dominate their sport, maintain good grades, and participate in other activities they are passionate [about] — all in order to get into college,” said varsity volleyball player Caroline Smith.

The other factor that also stretches athletes too thin is the pressure to specialize. Specialization is when athletes focus in on one sport for an extended period of time in order to excel in that specific sport. This heightened concentration of one sport can lead to an athlete’s “burnout” and increases the chance of a sport-related injury. In schools around the country, many students believe that the only way to fully commit to a sport and receive a college scholarship is to play a club sport and specialize.

To be the most competitive, students find themselves committed to school sports and club sports.  Many clubs in the area place an importance on preparing athletes for playing a sport in college and getting a scholarship. The club sports are slowly taking over the lives of athletes and lowering participation in school sports.

The problem is students may be “shooting for a college scholarship that may not be there,” Philipopoulos said. “I think our students would have much more success going for academic scholarships.”

However Philipopoulos said that actually “recruiters want a multisport athlete.”

Philipopoulos asks student athletes, “You have four years to try everything at Burlingame, so why not try it all?” in an effort to start a essential discussion on the meaning of commitment on campus.