The value of individual sports

It’s 3:45, a half hour after school lets out. Some student athletes jog out to the field, some trek to the pool and some navigate through locker rooms smelling of sweat and deodorant. All of them have to go to practice.

Sports hold an important place on the campus, not just for athletes. Players, band members and spectators all play a role in the athletic community.

   Varsity swimmer sophomore Cherilyn Yu races in the 100 meter.

Varsity swimmer sophomore Cherilyn Yu races in the 100 meter.

All sports are different in the skills they require of participants, both physically and mentally. But in general terms, sports fall into one of two categories: team or individual. While both hold value in the skills they develop, individual sports have a much longer lasting and meaningful impact on athletes, both in the lessons they teach and opportunities they present. 

Team sports are enjoyable  because they give athletes the chance to bond. Making friends, socializing, and having a good time all have value. However, team sports lack any long-lasting emotional and psychological benefits for athletes. 

“I like the relationship I build with my teammates and working together as a group,” said junior Connor Kall, who is a baseball and football player.

This camaraderie definitely holds social merit. But for many athletes, that’s the extent of their team experience. The idea of dependence on teammates misleads many less-experienced players, causing them to be carried by the more experienced. 

For example, the star players on the varsity soccer team travel to CCS with the benchwarmers. Some say this is an opportunity for players lacking skill to learn from better players. However, more often it creates a sense of unfulfillment among lesser players who feel it was just a victory for the team’s top members. The myth that all players on the team have an equal stake in success is far from reality.

On the other hand, individual sports curb feelings of hierarchy and skillful deficiency. Individual sport success is 100 percent up to the athlete, the individual.

“Individual sports build perseverance,” said junior Alec Sasano, who participates in swim. ”You definitely need to get in the mindset where you don’t give up, whereas team sports you can depend on others.”

With individual sports, achievements, failures, wins and losses can’t be blamed on teammates or corrected with a switch of positions. This total responsibility makes losing much harsher and victory immensely more rewarding. However much effort an athlete puts into training results in that much success; never more and never less. 

Most importantly, committing to individual sports imparts a lifestyle that indicates success later in life. Several years down the road, studying at 2:30 a.m. on a Wednesday night for a college exam in the morning will require perseverance and willpower.

The skills of determination, perseverance, and self-reliance are a cornerstone of individual sports. These values aid athletes throughout the rest of their lives. 

While team sports provide a fun athletic social experience, individual sports allow one to commit to achieving self-set goals and learn an unparalleled level of perseverance.

Posted on September 28, 2018 .