by: Boot Bullwinkle
Although the debate over the preference for high school and club sports is often fueled by the personal experience of the player, there are still some factual reasons why high school is the better option because of aspects like camaraderie, technical growth and safety.
High school sports are built for the student. Academic standards are a requirement and with them, the student-athlete can grow both athletically and academically. In club sports, the athlete can be distracted by the prestigious title of being on a high-level travel team, and over-commitment to the sport can distract him from his schoolwork. It is understandably difficult to realize the long-term benefits of doing well in school with the more immediate glorification of excelling in a sport. Commitment is not only important for sports, but also for school. When teachers and coaches surround the student, the student can have a balance of support in schoolwork and athletics.
A lot of creativity and flair is involved in sports, leading to a large variety of coaching styles. In many club sports, there is one committed coach who trains the team and serves as a role model. This is a great coaching model to employ, but for the pure aspect of technical growth, it’s impractical. In high school sports, there is a fresh new perspective to sharpen the athlete’s skills with each new coach. Aspects that were previously overlooked may be tightened and perfected with different drills, tricks and eclectic competition. Playing rival schools that have a constant turnover of freshmen and seniors adds a variety of players that the student-athlete may otherwise never have competed against. There is so much detail to be gleaned and applied in a short two-and-a-half-month period, while club sports repeat the same drills and lessons, a practice that can actually end up hurting the athlete’s abilities. It is necessary to get other perspectives and this can be achieved by playing high school sports.
When everyone’s skill comes together to create a formidable program, there is an undeniable bond between the players on a team. This bond is strengthened by the pride of playing for a school. No longer is the game just for the parents and teammates—it is now for the 2,000 students who hope for the team’s success. That pressure brings everyone together, and there are very few experiences more memorable and exhilarating than beating the cross-town rivals. Everyone sees each other on and off the field and lifelong friends are made based on these more personal interactions. In club sports, there may be a couple people that go to the same school, but they will not know their teammates when they are out of uniform. Nostalgic memories are made and communities are built when all the students live in the same sphere of life. The benefits to high school sports that cannot be ignored. Personal experiences can influence one’s opinion of preference, but the factual benefits of participating in a school sport make it a better experience.