Wealthy student athletes have an advantage

Ever since I was little, I have been pretty athletic. In elementary school, I practiced ballet, hip hop and tennis; now, I am a proud member of the NPHS water polo and swim team. 

In middle school, I knew I wanted to swim, but my school did not have a team to join. My next option was to join a club team outside of school, something I could not afford. 

This, however, is the path that many other student athletes end up taking, building strength with professional coaches to get familiarized and skilled at the sport before and throughout high school. Club teams are a lot of work; with practices often two or three times a week, the student must be dedicated, and something else too infrequently spoken about… financially inclined. 

With COVID-19 limiting my practices this year, I looked into club water polo again. I found that the costs soared to $745 for one season, with up to $600 extra for games. The discovery made me realize just how lucky I am to be in a school sport, which lets me play at a much lower price. Most parents, like mine, don’t have over a thousand dollars to spend on their kids’ sports season every single year. With that cost, of course I haven’t been able to play club in the past! 

In middle school, I was not able to compete in a club sport because of the high cost. Many of my classmates just assumed that I did not want to practice or was not dedicated enough to do so, when quite the opposite was the case. The truth is that most club players are better than athletes like me, but it’s not because they are more dedicated. I would love to practice vigorously with a club team everyday, but just do not have the money.

Instead, I have been training by myself at public pools, where you can rent lanes for low prices. With college applications just around the corner, I have been working hard in the hopes of getting into a division school. Only, how can I compete with athletes who have been regularly training and conditioning in club sports since they were young?

When colleges choose high schoolers for their teams and give out athletic scholarships, their choices are often club players, since they are inherently more experienced. However, student athletes on club teams are the least in need of these significant scholarships, since they must already be financially inclined to be able to play club in the first place.

This ongoing cycle that favors wealthy student athletes must be recognized. It is important to understand the advantage that wealth gives athletes, and to make the distinction between money and dedication. 

 

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