Sacrificing school for sports

Paige Evers '22 and Becca Koch '22

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Infographic by Paige Evers ’22

Student athletes are a huge sector of every high school population. But for those whose capabilities extend past the average high schooler, more must be done. This leads many to take on the expensive, extensive and extraordinary world of travel sports.
Travel sports offer a higher level of competition and experience, but these advantages can come with drawbacks. High prices due to traveling can often make travel sports unattainable for many students. For those who can participate many find life long lessons in it.
“I do it because it is a fun sport and it is really fun to go to different places,” said Stephanie Hampton ’22. “You’re always competing against new people.”
Often with so much travel, school could take a backseat to sports. Getting school work in advance is one of the ways Hampton stays on top of missing school for sports. Hampton rows for South and the Detroit Boat Club year-round and travels for regattas all throughout the midwest.
“A lot of my teachers are very helpful about getting me homework early,” Hampton said. “(They make) sure that I can understand what is going on.”
Consistent absences over a period of several days can affect a student’s ability to learn according to social studies teacher Peter Palen.
“I believe that being in class nearly every day is crucial for seeing the whole picture,” Palen said. “I can definitely see that when students are excessively absent a lot due to sports or excused absences then they are kind of missing a piece of the story.”
Travel sports is not only for the athlete. It takes a toll on the entire family according to Tory Roth ’22. Roth plays travel hockey along with her two younger sisters. Overlapping travel schedules often means that their family can’t spend as much time together.
“Typically it takes time away from spending time with my family,” Roth said. “Our parents have to drive us everywhere and we don’t get much downtime.”
Students are allowed 10 unexcused absences every semester. This can quickly add up with travel sports. But getting absences excused can be a time-consuming process Roth said.
“To get an absence excused, I have to get a pre-arranged absence form and have to write out all the dates (I’m missing), then each of my teachers are allowed to sign it,” Roth said. “Once all my teachers sign it, I’m excused from their classes and have to go to the principal for a final signature.”
Even though travel sports can lead to many absences, doing a school-sanctioned sport like rowing makes getting absences excused much easier, according to Hampton
“Doing a sport through the school is easier to make sure that your absences won’t affect your attendance from being cut off at the 10 absence limit,” Hampton said. “When it isn’t through the school my absences tend to build up.”
The sacrifices made are worth it for many athletes to be able to compete at the next level according to Roth.
“Travel sports are hard work and a huge time commitment,” Roth said. “Some people might not think this way, but I think it’s worth it.”
While the chance of high school athletes going pro is impossibly small, many parents want to encourage their children to continue their athletics. For some, the chance of securing a college scholarship is worth it according to Palen.
“I think all parents want the best for their kids and they want to pursue that all the way through to the end,” Palen said. “They want that lifelong goal. Even if it at the detriment of their kid’s education.”