By Nick LeBlanc
The years of not caring about grades are over. In turn, the years of three sport athletes are over.
Being accepted into college has become so competitive that sports have began taking a back seat. Due to the rigor of many student’s schedules, and the commitment required from playing a sport, students are forced to give up playing sports they love to make sure they get the best grades possible to stay competitive in the hunt for college.
Junior Rylee Kim, who used to play three sports but had to quit basketball to manage the workload of academics, is a prime example on how heavy the era of competitiveness has hit Dexter High School.
“Sometimes I had multiple sports going on at one time, so I had to drop a sport to spend more time on academics so I wouldn’t feel as overwhelmed,” Kim said.
In elementary school, when students didn’t have to worry about the stress of college acceptance, almost all students involved in athletics played more than one sport. Back then, it wasn’t abnormal to see a Dexter kid engaged in a multitude of different sports all year long. But now, in our era of specialization, it is considered rare to find a student that plays three sports throughout the school year. Even Dexter’s athletic director, Michael Bavineau, had difficulty naming students who play three sports, and he has a good explanation of why this is.
“What happens is that students’ coaches schedule things [practices and workouts] on top of one another,” Bavineau said, “and this is where you start to see kids becoming overwhelmed with having to pick and choose what sport to participate in.”
Over the years, school, athletics, and academics have become more competitive. As a result, students are forced to push themselves to the max academically by taking multiple AP or IB classes on top of two hours of daily practice.
Time isn’t the only factor in the decline of three-sport athletes. Some people have dropped sports to focus on only one to earn a scholarship in that sport. Many feel the competitiveness involved with college sports requires you to specify and master one sport and drop the rest, even though coaches may encourage otherwise.
“Being a coach, I suggest my players to play multiple sports to make sure they stay competitive,” said Bavineau, who also coaches girls varsity basketball. “Colleges look to see if athletes play multiple sports, so dropping a sport may hurt a student when pursuing college.”
Despite this suggestion, seniors who play three sports are rare at DHS; it is more common to see underclassmen play three sports. The combination of intermediate level courses and uncertainty about what sport they want to play in college leads to underclassmen playing three sports.
“I don’t have a major clash with my academic life and my athletic life at the moment, and I don’t see myself only playing one sport in the future,” said freshman Andrew Durand, who plays football, basketball, and baseball.
Even though students like Durand can balance multiple sports and academics, it is still difficult to make time for a social life.
Managing advanced classes, athletics, and visiting friends outside of school is nearly impossible due to the hectic schedule. In reality, Bavineau said, the opposite maybe true.
“Playing multiple sports can help students have better interaction socially with their teammates, improving them as people and giving them better skills,” Bavineau said.
Not all students are like Durand. It is clear students begin to stop playing sports to pursue better grades to make it into a prestigious college. In fact, dropping sports may not be the answer to improve grades.
“Most students who participate in an organized activity tend to be more organized and self-aware,” Bavineau said. “This leads to students doing better academically.”
In all, the fall of the three sport athlete is due to growing importance of academics, and students wanting to improve their social life. However, dropping sports could lead to repercussions because playing three sports has the potential to change someone’s life.
“Playing three sports has helped me managed my time between the different sports that I play,” said senior Anna Love, who plays field hockey, basketball, and softball. “Playing three sports has also brought me closer to different types of people, which is part of the reason why I play three sports.”