The experience of non-school sports


Iris Breckenridge, Editor-In-Chief

 One of the most common get to know you questions in school is any form of question regarding sports participation. “Do you play a sport? What sport? How long have you played? Are you going to play in college?” There are a wide variety of answers, but most likely, their answer will be a sport within LOHS. Although there are many sports offered at school, some typically are not, and doing a club sport such as gymnastics is much different than doing a school sport. 

I’m a gymnast and I love it, especially how it is such a unique sport. I wouldn’t change that I do it through a club, but I have noticed some downsides about it. For starters, I feel like with an outside of school sport you aren’t as recognized for your accomplishments. When other teams are being recognized during announcements for winning their last game or competition, and you’ve just won your competition, I’m happy for our sports teams but it’s also a little disappointing when you’re not recognized for such a similar thing. It’s not something that people would think about unless the situation applied to them, and so many people are involved with a sport at the school so they don’t notice. I will say, teachers are pretty good at asking about our weekends which is the perfect time to share your out of school accomplishments. 

Something else I have noticed is that school sports are very hard-core and competitive. Not that gymnastics isn’t, but from an outsider’s perspective it seems to be that the goal of a school sport is to win. It seems to me that if you are on a school sports team the way to feel accomplished is by winning and making it to playoffs and state. 

To me, sports aren’t all about winning. I do love winning, but I feel like I’ve accomplished more if I’ve improved my performance; it’s more rewarding to me to feel like I did a great routine and improved over time, rather than winning with a fall or a routine that I’m not super proud of because it just happened to be better than everyone else’s. I want to win because of the hard work I put into practice and because I did a good routine I can be proud of, not because my worst was everyone else’s best. 

Part of this opinion stems from the fact that gymnastics is in reality an individual sport. You are only competing for yourself so you’re only relying on yourself for how you do. With a team sport, winning a tournament is a great accomplishment because it’s something you did together. Winning the state championship is a great goal, I just feel like winning it shouldn’t take priority over having fun and enjoying yourself. 

Another aspect of school sports that I am less familiar with, relating to the hard-core, competitive feeling, is how I’ve heard that you aren’t allowed to miss practice or you could be out of the game or competition that week. While that is fair, I also feel like because sports are extracurriculars they should respect that there are other important things in your life as well (although maybe the other things in your life are that sport). In my experience, my coaches realize that we have lives outside of school and that the sport isn’t our entire lives. Part of it is because it is an individual sport; missing practice doesn’t affect other people’s ability to compete. And to be honest, the reason my teammates and I miss practice is to go to school sporting events or catch up on homework because our coaches understand that our practices are long, and they don’t want us to miss out on fun high school experiences. 

That’s another thing: my gymnastic practices are three to four hours five days a week which is why it is so hard to be able to go to sports games. Not only that, but it is also much more difficult for me to hang out and connect with my school friends because gymnastics is so time consuming, so my schedule doesn’t always match up with everyone else’s. After school or after practice isn’t an option because practice is too close to the end of school and it is over too late to do anything besides eat, shower and do homework. I envy how school sports get out earlier. 

 With all this being said, school sports and club sports are definitely different, but one isn’t necessarily better than the other. Having only experienced club gymnastics during my high school career has definitely impacted my view of school sports and has led me to learning something about myself: high school sports aren’t my cup of tea. But I am very grateful that there are so many people who do them because I do love going to games every now and then. Besides, what other excuse do I have for skipping practice once in a while?