Athletic Privilege
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Athletic Privilege

The disadvantages I encountered in school for not being in sports.

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Athletic Privilege
Wikipedia Commons

High school sports wasn’t something that I was a part of. I spent my days either competing at speech tournaments, at work, or participating at the community theater. Due to this, I was on the unfortunate end of something I like to call “athletic privilege” that I saw happen a lot at my school, and it’s something I feel needs to be addressed. It seemed that a good portion of teachers definitely preferred (and probably still do) the athletes. I had fantastic grades, but since I wasn’t wearing a football jersey or swinging a baseball bat later that day, many teachers just overlooked my existence. Maybe you can relate to my frustration.

Rules apparently don’t apply to athletes. They could talk all of class, sit wherever and on whatever they wanted, and even leave whenever they felt like it but if I so much as sneezed I’d get a glare for disturbing the peace. Athletes could get away with murder in class and I couldn’t even get away with turning to the girl behind me to hand her the pencil she dropped. Many teachers (and rightfully so) had the rule that even if you were done with all of your work, you couldn’t leave their class early to get ready for the next class or to go home at the end of the day. However, if you were an athlete and had practice after school, you could go get ready for that. I, the girl who worked at 3;30, which gave me 15 minutes to leave class, get my stuff together, get to and out of the parking lot, and across town to my house to get ready, and then to work, wasn’t even allowed to go get my backpack and then return to class. There were some instances where the athletes were allowed to go work out in the weight room once they were done with their work, but I couldn’t even go two feet out the door to the computer lab to work on the yearbook or work on homework for other classes. One of my friends was telling me that there were actual classes at his school designed for athletes because they were easier to pass, that way nobody would have to worry about failing and not being able to play. It has gotten to the point where I’m just convinced that sports mattered more than schoolwork in the eyes of the whole world.

Being let out of school early because you have to travel two hours for a game is no foreign concept to anyone. Teachers accept that and let them go without any argument whatsoever. One teacher would always let the athletes out and wish them good luck as they went, but when the speech team was going somewhere even further away than the basketball players and were allowed to get out of class FIVE minutes early, that same teacher told me I couldn’t leave early and could wait the five minutes. The boys needed to be let out half an hour early to put on some gym clothes and hop on a bus, but I couldn’t get out five minutes early to go perfectly do my hair and makeup, put on a suit and heels, and cross my fingers that I make it to the bus on time. When the sports team left, it took half of the class with them, which you think would inconvenience teachers a lot more than the ONE speech team member leaving. The same would apply for student council meetings. We got passes to leave class a couple of minutes early on the days of meetings so we wouldn’t be stuck in the lunch line and miss most of the meeting. A good amount of teachers tended to not find this very necessary. We’re only planning all of the school events, it’s not like it’s stressful or time consuming or anything. The entire school could have the day off or get let out early because there’s a state football game or something, but when speech goes to state, the team members aren’t even allowed to go with unless they want unexcused absences. Our school didn’t even let out for horrible weather that could endanger people in their travels....just sports. They even offer a charter bus for people who want to go watch sports, and I couldn’t even ride in the speech suburban with my best friend to support her when she made state. It somehow is more efficient to rent a whole charter bus than to fill and empty seat on a suburban that is already en route to said destination I guess.

I’m not saying that all teachers did this, a good handful didn’t. Those were the teachers whose classes I would go out of my way to take. In fact, my senior year I only took their classes and opted for online college classes for the rest. I’m not trying to say that athletes are bad people either, they just have a lot of unfair benefits that make us band, 4H, theater, speech, gaming, studious, and/or just plain non-sporty people feel inferior and as if we aren’t as valued in our own school system. None of us get giant posters with all of our show or competition dates on it. There’s nobody watching our performances to judge if we are eligible for a full ride scholarship. It’s not fair, and I’m tired of everyone acting like it’s just a part of life.

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