Nina Lavezzo Stecopoulos

Sports vs. Academics

November 8, 2017

Bridget Brown ‘18 is a varsity athlete, 4.0 student, and cross country team captain who participates in both track and cross country. She admits to struggle sometimes with balancing her sports and her academics. Both have benefits and hardships.

“I think, honesty, do as much as you can without going crazy because if you try and take on too much you’re going to make yourself miserable and end up going backwards. Balancing it is kind of tricky but it can be done without making yourself miserable,” said Brown ‘18.

High school students have many jobs: their school work, extracurricular activities, taking care of family members or even working. It can become hard to balance all of these aspects of students lives.

“They’re students first so that’s the most important aspect of going to high school,” said John Burkle, who teaches AP Government at City.

The United States uses a system of letter grades that lead up to a cumulative grade point average to measure students academic capabilities. However, other countries instead use numbers to measure students knowledge, or simply rank the test scores of students to show how well they know certain subjects.  To motivate students some countries go as far as to post lists that rank how well specific students did on specific tests or throughout the entire semester.

In the Us’s system, students don’t receive these types of motivation but rather are rewarded as they leave high school, in the form of scholarships, becoming valedictorian, or going elite colleges. Since most of these rewards take place as students graduate from high school there are not as many rewards that are given to students throughout their high school lives. At City High the only motivation and recognition for students with a high grade point average throughout high school is the honor roll.

“Before college comes into the picture I don’t think it [the honor roll] matters that much to people,” said Shelby Keep ‘18.

“I just think it’s like ok good you get good grades and then maybe you’ll get into a good college and they don’t really give awards or anything.” Said Carly Weigel ‘20 a 4.0 student.

Other student achievements are recognized by City earlier than graduation. This year Mr. Bacon lead an assembly to give students who participated in three or more sports at City a nike sweatshirt.  

Sophie Trom ‘20, who participated in three sports last year, is deciding if she should do two or three this year.

“I love sweatshirts,” said Trom,  “the sweatshirts are honestly making my decision a little easier.”

Besides the sweatshirts there are other incentives for aspiring athletes at City that might encourage them to join a team. Sports teams at City often host team dinners, while athletes are playing the sport they get a nike sweatshirt and get to keep a practice shirt, they may also buy apparel and such to show their participation. Games are also an attraction for friends, families, and teachers. And there is always the possibility of a sports scholarship to college.


These aspects of sports here and other things have lead to a huge increase in participation, last year more students participated in sports than ever before. Great things have come from this, for example, throughout the last 30 years girls cross country has qualified for state.

This increase in participation has not only been happening at City but throughout the country. The in The High School Athletics Participation Survey done by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) states that has been increasing for the past 27 years.

More students participating however, also means more uniforms, transportation, and money necessary for the sports teams at City High.

This year, the athletic director at City estimated that the funds for sports equipment at City would amount to $80,000. This does not include transportation, facilities, or coach salaries. Due to the rising levels of participation sometimes this money is not enough.Franklin Hornbuckle participates in Cross Country and Track and he feels that there is enough money for sports here at City, but that it is not spent well.

“Sometimes we put sports ahead of academics,” said Burkle,  “but that’s just kind of life, colleges do it, high schools do it, so it’s not unusual but it happens.”

“Sometimes we put sports ahead of academics, but that’s just kind of life, colleges do it, high schools do it, so it’s not unusual but it happens.”

— John Burkle

Balancing sports and schoolwork  has been especially hard since the new change in school times. Students like Anthony Murphy ‘20 and Sophie Trom ‘20 feel like their sleeping habits haven’t gotten much better, but that it can be nice to have more time in the morning.

“I get home pretty late and then have all that homework but I don’t think it really matters…about the sleep because I’m going to stay up late anyways,” said Trom ‘20.

The time change was originally countered with petitions from athletes against the idea of getting home later. But this isn’t the only effect of the change;  students miss more classes due to the fact that other schools in Iowa still get out at 3:00pm. This results in more tests to make up and sometimes even missing three to four school periods.

Ali Borger-Germann, an english teacher at City, feels very strongly about students missing class.

“It drives me crazy! I mean golfers in the spring, do they ever show up? They leave at like second period, they’re gone for the whole freaking day! I get it right but also now that our schedule has shifted later kids who used to miss part of seventh are missing fifth, sixth, and seventh,” Said Borger-Germann, “it makes it hard for those students to feel like during their season they’re fully engaged in their classes.”

Terry Coleman the athletic director at City is also concerned with the issue of the effects of schedule change on athletes. He hopes that the school district will look over any changes in grade point average since the time change. Coleman is aware of the concerns that have come with the change that happened a year ago and he realizes how students often take on many activities.

“I would never take it upon myself to say you need to stop doing this or you need to stop doing that or stop doing this. Because that’s just not my role,” said Coleman.

Coleman believes that it is not his role to ask students to drop extra curricular activities but that teachers should understand the students commitment to their sports and remember that when assigning, checking hw, etc. It is the teacher’s job to keep students other responsibilities besides school in mind.

“I think teachers do a really good job of knowing that if there’s an assignment due tomorrow and somebody has a cross country meet in Dubuque which happens frequently, they get back at 10:30, they’re gonna give them a little bit of a break on that thing that’s gonna be due tomorrow,” said Coleman.

This strategy can be difficult if students have a large time commitment outside of school that could also go till 10:30. According to Coleman’s beliefs teachers are to cater to students sports commitments.

“I feel like unless you would like to become an athlete in the future, sports will only get you so far,” said Mariam Keita ‘20, “where as academia is the foundation of every career you could go into.”

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association only 6% of high school participant in basketball, football, baseball, and men’s ice hockey and soccer continue with that sport in college. Only about 3.5% continue from college to professional sports and only less than 0.02% of high school athletes go professional.

That means that two in a hundred high school sports participants will end up making money from their sport.

“I think [sports] tend to be over represented, and by that I mean they get a disproportionate amount of our attention and our resources compared to the other things that students are involved in,”  said Ms. Borger-Germann, “but they’re also offering students something that they don’t get in other places…We don’t get to use our bodies very much during the average school day and so I think there’s something really healthful and life giving about that, I just think it get’s a little too much weight.”

Bridget Brown ‘18 recently received [ALL ACADEMIC CONFERENCE?] award which is given to those who have a 3.5 GPA or higher and participate in a varsity sport. She struggled to balance her sports and academics like many students do.

Lindsey Parrott ‘18 also received this award. Parrott’s ‘18 words of advice are to choose your battles and do what makes you happy.

“This is high school not college or a career so you should choose what makes you happy, if that’s cross country or if that’s a harder class or if it’s just an art class you should choose,” said Lindsey Parrott ‘18.

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