The world is not made up of just one type of person. In theory, there is no “correct” extracurricular, and preference is entirely personal. If you are not interested in the arts like painting or music, you can always play volleyball, and if you are not a sports person, there are more academic hobbies like debate. The choices and possibilities are endless.
My parents always told me that they would support whatever I wanted to do, but one thing that was non-negotiable was that I always had to participate in a team sport. This carried into my Andover career. I am not the best athlete, but every season, I don a uniform and get ready to compete for a team. My parents always said that team sports taught invaluable skills of communication, collaboration, and cooperation, and oftentimes they do.
But what is often neglected is the fact that there are so many other non-athletic endeavors that teach those same skills. These kinds of activities are often forgotten because of the emphasis on athletics, as both the Andover community and the culture unfairly favor sports.
When I was touring Andover, I timidly asked my tour guide what her favorite Andover tradition was (my go-to high school admissions question), and she quickly responded: “Andover/Exeter.” She excitedly explained how everyone cheered on their school, flushed from the yelling and decked out in blue apparel. It seemed fun, exciting, and cheerful. I could imagine a vibrant sports scene at this school.
I remember in the car though, my mother pointed out that my tour guide had not talked much about the dance or art programs. It was almost like they were so irrelevant that they were not even worth including on the tour. They were an after-thought, something that tickled people’s minds but didn’t really stand at the forefront of their experience. I am not an artistic person, so maybe I wasn’t as focused on this, but nonetheless, it felt weird to me that I would hear little to nothing about the art program in general.
I took dance classes for most of middle school, but I planned on quitting before coming to Andover. Even still, I found it curious how difficult it was to find information regarding the program’s try-outs, or even structure. Conversely, I found information on sports flooding my inbox. I had never even heard of squash, and here I was, sitting in my freshman dorm reading emails from the girls squash coach. It struck me as odd that a school with so many diverse interests and talents would neglect to publicize and promote activities with such a large swath of interests.
As a society, we tend to value sports more than we do artistic pursuits. This makes sense. We want action. We want our attention to be captivated. All of this can be fulfilled by watching a sports game, so I understand why people feel more connected to sports than creative pursuits. But we are all doing ourselves a disservice by disregarding some of the most talented and creative members of our community.
We would all be enriched by acknowledging these kinds of achievements equally, and it would allow us to build deeper and more meaningful connections with one another. It would make our lives and our community more rich, and colorful, instead of purely paying attention to athletic endeavors. I want us all to appreciate more deeply one another’s accomplishments, outside of sports. So, I recommend going to that choral concert, taking 15 minutes to experience someone’s Art 600 project, or electing to attend that dance show. These moments in which we are able to experience one another’s artistic skills are overlooked — so let’s bring them into the field of play.
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