Why are athletic ECs so valued?

<p>Over the months that I've been on CC, many have expressed that athletic ECs are important, more so than other ECs. Why is that? Is that the case only for a recruited athlete? Just curious ...</p>

<p>I've discussed this with my kids. There are few character building opportunities in high school like team sports where you get an opportunity to depend on yourself and your teammates.</p>

<p>Where else can one have the experience of walking into a locker room during a game (basketball, soccer, football, etc.) at half-time...tired, dispirited and trailing by a large margin? If you're lucky, you have a great coach that 'coaches you up'...The team comes back in the second half...ties the game and maybe goes on to win the game in overtime. </p>

<p>Perseverance and triumph over adversity is nowhere to be found in the course curriculum and is an intangible worthy of recognition.</p>

<p>I don't have the whole answer, and I don't necessarily agree with the more-so-than-other-ECs aspect. But I definitely think a good athletic EC is important. And I absolutely think it applies far more broadly than just to recruited athletes. </p>

<p>As I said, I can't articulate the whole answer, and I'm sure other posters will have interesting things to say too. But here are two elements that make athletic ECs valuable: </p>

<ol>
<li>A real athletic commitment does foster some truly important skills, many of which (e.g., time management; an ability to use and improve one's own skills in the context of achieving group goals; a facility for bouncing back in the face of setbacks, just to name three) have real bearing on the likelihood of a kid making a good adjustment to college life, and life in general.*</li>
<li>The tradition of the scholar athlete, strong in body and mind, goes pretty far back. Lots of research, old and new, backs up the idea that a fit, healthy body fosters the continual growth of an even fitter brain. </li>
</ol>

<p>*I'm not saying these skills can't grow through other activities - just that they certainly can and usually do grow in a good athletic program.</p>

<p>I've often wondered this too. Some answers I've come up with along the way- </p>

<p>** Being involved in athletics is just another facet to being a well rounded person.</p>

<p>** Being involved in athletics requires a DAILY committment (at least during the season of that sport) that not too many other ECs involve (with the exception of maybe music).</p>

<p>** I was very anti-sports, pro-academics for years. After seeing and hearing about so many awful coaches out there, a quote by a pro coach whose name escapes me right now became my mantra- "Sports don't build character, they only reveal it". Then, both of my Ds participated in h.s. tennis - one at a successful level, the other at a very successful level. There is just a certain something that a kid gets by being successful at a sport. They both were high achievers academically (both vals, one NMF), but excelling at a sport just seemed to provide some sort of a different kind of validation. </p>

<p>I think colleges feel that way too. If a student excels academically, plays a musical instrument, is involved in school and community groups and holds leadership positions in those groups, and competes in a sport - that student is just a very well rounded person.</p>

<p>It requires you to be at practice everyday of the week for hours after school. Then you have to come home beat, shower, eat, and do your pile of homework and ECs. That's pretty gruelsome imo.</p>

<p>Sports teams are a traditional rallying point for a school identity, they create a non-academic diversion for the students who just watch too. They support a tribal, community sense in a lot of kids -- athletes and non-athletes. They are part of that idealized notion of a community of youthful, strong minds and youthful strong bodies.</p>

<p>That said, of course not all students have even a glimmer of interest in how their school's teams are doing (I was one way back when), but for many it is fun and a relief from the academic grind to just go out and cheer on your athletes.</p>

<p>Other kinds of community contributions are powerful in their own right --arts, community engagement, etc.-- but the artists and activists don't <em>represent</em> the whole tribe in quite the same way as competitive athletics. Maybe it has something to do with the roots of out tribal social structures or something. ;)</p>

<p>I do know a couple kids who find schools like Reed very attractive because of the lack of sports teams, but many more who wouldn't find going to a school like that much fun.</p>

<p>All the kids I know of whose sport activities have been a significant EC re: college admissions, didn't start doing them for that reason. Being an athlete is just part of who they are, something they love, a challenge they seek out for personal reasons.</p>

<p>ARE athletic EC's really valued that much?
Yes they show commitment and all, but for the average player, I don't if they factor in all that much for college. Accomplished athletes are a different story. I think you should choose EC's that interest you, athletic or not.</p>

<p>Interesting. Sophomore son has played varsity baseball for two years and loves it. Something about representing your school out on the field. He's played since he was 4. He's never going to be a recruited athlete, though I'm sure he'd love to play intramurals or on a club team. </p>

<p>I just never realized until coming on here that it would prove to be so desirable to colleges. For us, it's just fun. :)</p>

<p>
[quote]
Yes they show commitment and all, but for the average player, I don't if they factor in all that much for college. Accomplished athletes are a different story. I think you should choose EC's that interest you, athletic or not.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>I'm not sure about that! Somebody I know, who has a strong EC in sports, and some additional EC but less then 30h/year, got accepted in three UC schools where they don't even have a program in that sport. I would say, any EC is good, as long as you show dedication. Other values were shown above.</p>

<p>I think playing a sport shows perserverance. College is a place where one's ability to perservere is often tested. There are lots of great ways for kids to show their passion and committment but there are not many EC's that are as demanding both physically and mentally as sports. The everyday practices for months, the physical wear and tear on the body, sustaining injury and coming back for more, the ability to take direction and often very harsh criticism from coaches, dealing with the unfairness of it, going out there in front of hundreds of people on Friday nights to give all you have for your team and your school....participating in a sport shows that this is the kind of kid who knows what hard work is, knows how to lose and go right back to it the next day and believes that a comeback is always possible regardless of the odds.</p>

<p>My S2 (a sr)played h.s football for four years. He was a lineman (not a glory position) He is an average student with very average stats. He is going to a state u. next year. I believe that his committment to football (his only EC of any significance) showed the admissions office that he may be average but he knows about committment and seeing it through to the finish.</p>

<p>Come on, this crap is ridiculous. Anything you can find in sports you can find in academia. True self discipline isn't physical repetition, but mental endurance. At 3 a.m., when I'm as exhausted as I've ever been, I'm trying to focus on writing a paper or I'm wrestling with Taylor-McLauren series or w/e, that's a true test of my character. The enduring academic, toiling away to no recognition in the middle of the night alone in his room, struggling and defeating in the face academic rigor, improves his mind for the present and the future. An academic doesn't depend on his teammates to pull him through something, he has to do it himself. Ultimately, life will request the skills of a scholar more than those of an athlete. After all, how many Tom Buchanans are there, for whom their athletic days were the only interesting things in their lives, who can't contribute to society in any way greater than a non-athlete, and for whom those long sessions in the gym have long since stopped helping. Lifting a bar won't help you three months from now, but you won't forget the desperation of Hamlet, for example. Don't tell me it's an intangible.</p>

<p>No one's saying it's an intangible, but it's a private activity and not very rousing or fun as far as community recreation. No one wants to paint their chest and cheer you on at 3 am for mental endurance. ;)</p>

<p>^^^ If colleges would think as you do, than you'd have only students with high academic credentials at most prestigious schools. One of my professors in college was saying that "most of the top students, fail after college in the real life"! Why? Because they lack that outside the "book" experience. Life is not only about numbers and letters, there's a lot more that you need to be prepared for. If you are a student... you'll see what I mean when you'll have to actually earn your living. Your statement is totally ridiculous!</p>

<p>One of my favorite colleges has the four pillars that embody the ideal student. They are intellectual, physical, spiritual and social. Sports are very definitely a part of a successful, healthy and happy life.</p>

<p>Tobman, the thing is, there are people who push themselves to the limits both mentally (what you described) and physically (lifting weights, doing suicides until you completely break down).</p>

<p>Just to give a different perspective on things: I have a little chip on my shoulder about the glorification of the team aspect of athletics as compared to other group activities that are not typically considered "athletic." As a thespian, I know from experience that theatre requires just as much dedication as sports. Everyone involved (both actors and techies) has to know every single one of his or her cues, and good actors memorize everyone's lines for the entirety of their time onstage, so that they know if someone has forgotten a line and can have that split second to prepare some way to cover the forgotten line. All this outside work, combined with rehearsals that can last up to 7 or 8 hours, indicates to me that the time put into theatre is no small matter. (This work always requires dedication, but especially in plays with heavy subject matter--my school recently did two plays about the Holocaust--it is sometimes even more difficult to continually go back, day after day, to the same horrific material.)</p>

<p>And as for teamwork and fighting for school pride, I have never heard of a company that said "oh, who cares, it's not like we're trying to beat anyone anyway." True, theatre is usually not extrinsically competitive, but there is more often than not an intrinsic motivation to make each performance as good as possible.</p>

<p>But this thread isn't about theatre. In my opinion, colleges should "weight" participation in both athletic and "nonathletic" (dubious as that title may be, considering how much sweat I've lost during dances) team ECs equally. Teamwork, quick thinking, and perseverance can be seen in athletics, in theatre, and in playing instruments, so why should any of those be given any extra help?</p>

<p>Sorry about your chip. Theatre is considered an outstanding EC, and if a particular college does not appreciate that, then it is not the right place for you. Some colleges don't put as much value on sports as others do. Choose wisely, there is a place for everyone.</p>

<p>Why are athletic ECs valued? The daily commitment in-season and almost-daily commitment off-season, the teamwork and leadership aspects, the immense amount of both mental and physical dedication... all kinds of things are required to be an athlete. Really, the only thing that isn't is academic strength. Which is why an athlete with excellent academics is seen as an incredible catch for a university.</p>

<p>I have known many kids for whom theater is their great passion and central EC (just because of certain circumstances in my life, I've known many more theater kids than athlete kids), and they have all done just fine with college admissions. Adultparentmom! is absolutely right.</p>

<p>Here are two timely articles from the NY Times (if links don't work you may need to register) on just how tough college sports are, and how scarce the scholarship dollars are in minor sports.</p>

<p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/12/sports/12lifestyles.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=college+scholarship%2C+athlete&st=nyt&oref=slogin%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/12/sports/12lifestyles.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=college+scholarship%2C+athlete&st=nyt&oref=slogin&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/sports/11coaches.html?scp=2&sq=college+scholarship%2C+athlete&st=nyt%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/sports/11coaches.html?scp=2&sq=college+scholarship%2C+athlete&st=nyt&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>