Con: Increased Sports Requirements

By: Julius Sim ’16
Staff Writer

One of the most important things that gives Peddie such an incredible environment is the diversity of students. I do not solely mean diversity from a racial standpoint, but also in terms of the varied interests and activities that the students here participate in. Having a group of single-minded students all focused on achieving the same goal would result in an awful student environment. Peddie gives students the freedom to explore the things that they want to. You don’t really notice what that means until you live in a dorm, and realize that everyone living with you has something unique to contribute to the school.

This is a reason why the new increased sports requirements, effective this year, come to me as a negative change. Sophomores are now obligated to be in at least one sport (theater not included) and juniors and seniors must do at least one sport or theater production for the academic school year. The decision was made, I assume, to bring students out of their shells and force potential coach potatoes into at least trying a new sport or after-school activity.

Personally, I consider sports to be positive for high school students. Last year, I was a three term athlete and I can say that besides all the pain and pain and pain, I came away with lessons that no academic lessons or late-night cramming sessions could teach me. Yet, forcing students to participate in team sports is an infringement on students’ rights.

While Peddie plays a part in expanding the views and interests of its students, it also has the role of protecting and allowing its students to pursue their own individual passions. Forcing students to participate in sports or theater may be beneficial, but more likely than not, it will take time away from students with interests that lie elsewhere. Not everybody can be Michael Phelps, and despite all the valuable lessons he may or may not learn in the process, the talented pianist stuck playing basketball may be wasting valuable time. Not only should students have the freedom to do what they enjoy, but the school which consists of qualified athletes, artists, and club leaders is arguably more successful than a school with mediocre student-“athletes” who resent the school’s new policy while riding the bench.

Alex Deland ’17, a member of this year’s fall play Romeo and Juliet, believes theatre deserves to fulfill the new requirement: “Theatre should be treated like a team sport, because it is. If the show loses one person, there is so much work that has to be done for the show to recover… Also, there is a huge physical aspect that’s involved in theatre that no one understands… Actors have to work even closer than those of a sports team, covering for each other when someone messes up, much like a soccer player passing the ball to a teammate.”

Activities in the arts department are stripped of potential key roles with changed athletics requirements, and the school is to suffer for it. While not everybody can be Michael Phelps or Albert Einstein, the theater is a valuable teaching conduit for students outside the realm of academics and athletics. If diversity is such an important part of Peddie and its mission statement, why force students into an (athletic) mold?

The label of “athlete” does not apply to every student here, nor should it; for every star lacrosse player there is a talented artist, or a genius mathematician, with primary interests outside of the athletics department. This is what makes Peddie special—the plethora of talented individuals from a number of different fields, coming together as community. As an individual, I stand changed because of the diversity of people I’ve seen here at Peddie, and forcing students to engage in at least one sport per year sounds like an overtly harsh method of raising students.