by Kardel Howard
When the alarm rings at 6:30 AM, it’s a struggle to get up if you’re exhausted from last night’s practice. Another 300 push-ups, 20 50-yard sprints, 30 bench presses of 180 pounds, after seven classes, including a quiz in geometry, an AP world history debate and a 16-page English paper to revise.
What’s a harder road at McClymonds? Being an athlete or just a regular student?
Being an athlete means always being sore until you’re conditioned. But then, you can’t miss a day. No sick days at all. If you go to practice all week and miss one day, when you go to practice the next day, you feel like a wimp, dizzy, out of shape, out of breath. It’s a commitment, day in and day out. No dabbling in sports.
There’s also the social pressure and stigma attached to being cool. Although athletes are admired as the reigning kings and queens of the social oligarchy, that power only comes from looking and acting cool.
There is fear attached to power. Once a person has had a tiny taste of what it means to rule a school, they will do anything to ensure that power, even if it means sacrificing one’s interests. Camping out for the next Hunger Games movie or Black Ops game is out of the question. We mustn’t do that.
I feel that a non-athlete has more time to experiment. He or she can join different programs like YOLO and Culture Keepers, even if it isn’t “cool,” and meet new people. Non-athletes also have more time to finish their homework and talk to their teachers after school.
An athlete like me has practice every day for two hours and only has study hall for an hour.
After practice, you’re tired. You have to catch the bus home and when you shuffle into the house, all smelly and sweaty, at 10:00, you collapse. You’re lucky if you get into the shower. No time for extra homework.
Since athletes ALWAYS have practice, they do not have time for extra activities like journalism, Student Government, and any other after school programs. This probably limits their chances of being well rounded.
” It is easier being a non-athlete because you don’t have to worry about games, practice and homework,” says Danny Sola, a senior. ” So it’s better to focus on just one thing.”
Her sister, Mickey Sola, a freshman, agrees.” I feel it’s harder to be an athlete because you have to work on sports, project, and daily homework that you get from teachers. The work you get from teacher is already too much.”
As non-athletes, Danny and Mickey believe that athletes do not have it easy and struggle through tests and papers, like everyone else. But they also believe that athletes are graded more easily than others.
I disagree, and I know from experience. In AP World History, my first essay about imperialism earned a D. No second chance to do it over again. So I had to work harder on the next essay, which was on Modern India and Gandhi.
The proof is also in the athletes’ records: Mercedes Latu, a sophomore and girls’ basketball star and discus thrower, and Kelton Runnels, a sophomore and football player, have maintained a 4.0 GPA all year.
As Runnels sees it, “Being an student athlete is difficult. My teachers didn’t just give me a grade because I’m an athlete. I had to earn all my grades.”
But he admits the free tutoring for athletes helps. “Receiving tutoring after school has helped,” he says. “For example, I was doing poorly in geometry and now I have a B+ in the class.”
That kind of help creates jealousy among non-athletes. Alas, there will always be tension and suspicion between the two groups.