Don’t Need It, Don’t Want It: I Hate Sports

I dislike athletics. However, I’ve played sports for most of my life and follow various sports leagues. I even dare say I’m an athletic guy since I’m very active and frequent the gym. So I should specify: I dislike athletics at Andover. As an Andover student, three mandatory terms of sports are at best, unnecessary, and at worst, a heavy burden on my classes, extracurriculars, and social life.

Requiring a student to participate in sports year-round is highly restricting. At a school like Andover, the fact that students have a wide variety of interests is a unique facet of the community and people here. Due to the significant time commitment of required sports, students are limited in their abilities to pursue clubs and hobbies. Even low-commitment “life sports” meet three to four times per week for at least an hour, a large chunk out of valuable weekday time.

Take a student who is participating in a sport, Jazz Band, and The Phillipian. Sports will typically let out at 5:00 p.m. If we’re being generous, this student might have 30 minutes to do homework, but they probably need a full hour to shower, change, and eat before band practice at 6:20 p.m. Immediately after that, they will head to the basement of Morse Hall for The Phillipian’s board meeting. They will then get back to their dorm at 9:30 p.m., leaving them three hours to do homework for the next day in order to sleep at a semi-reasonable time. As an upperclassman, this is completely unrealistic, as three hours wouldn’t be nearly enough time to prepare for classes while taking care of hygiene and any errands. This hypothetical student is almost me — luckily, I have a sport that doesn’t meet on Mondays. 

Besides, it’s not only students who are busy. Finding enough coaches can be a struggle for the athletic department. Faculty should only coach sports they are passionate and knowledgeable about, rather than the yoga class they were begged to teach. Coaching needs to become a more enjoyable experience for coaches, athletes, and administrators alike.

But I can already hear the rebuttals, “Growing kids need exercise! How will children remain healthy without school mandated snowshoeing?” To that, I say the average Andover student already lives an active and healthy lifestyle. Personally, I average 11,000 steps per day at school. 1,000 steps is estimated to take ten minutes to walk, meaning I get far over the recommended 60 minutes of exercise per day for teens, not counting the biking I do. Walking a lot is a requirement on this campus as students travel between classes, dorms, activities, and meals numerous times per day. Even my more sedentary friends average at least 6,000 steps per day on any given week, meeting the 60-minute threshold.

I have also heard proponents of the athletics requirements say that athletics are not only about the sports themselves but also about teaching students to live healthy and active lifestyles. While this is true, three terms of athletics per year is unnecessary. Students could very well learn how to get outside without such a great commitment, not to mention the mandatory physical education curriculum which should already teach this.

The solution to this problem is simple — make athletics a two-term requirement. Our rival, Phillips Exeter Academy, has adopted this model, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t do the same. Such a model helps students develop healthy habits and integrate athletics into their lives. At the same time, it would allow us to further pursue our true interests, an essential part of the high school experience.

Ultimately, two terms of sports is a win for everyone, students and teachers alike, while parents can rest assured their child is maintaining a healthy lifestyle on campus. I, like many other students, find myself crunched for time on a regular basis with the burden of athletics and hope for a change in athletics for my own and other students’ well-being.

Editor’s Note: Michael Ma ’24 is a Business Manager for The Phillipian.