Athletes question equity of sports contracts

Izzy Meyers, Editor-in-chief

While the high school boasts over 25 separate after school sport options and fitness classes, not all student athletes find what they are looking for on that list. If their sport is not offered, or if they do not want to play on the school’s teams, students can take advantage of outside clubs and activities to learn new skills, stay fit and have fun. However some students said that getting school credit for the work is not always that easy.

According to Health and Fitness Curriculum Coordinator Teddi Jacobs, all freshmen are required to take the integrated health and fitness course for one semester at the high school. For each year after that, there is a 0.25 credit health and fitness requirement. After freshman year, students have the option to play a sport at the high school as a substitute for completing a health and fitness course.

Alternatively, for students who participate in a physically active after school activity that is not offered at the high school, there is also another option, which is an after school contract between the student and Jacobs.

According to Jacobs, students on a contract must meet with her throughout the year to record their hours, write a summary paper about their experience and teach their activity to a high school class, if possible.

Senior Shahzad Mumtaz swims at Charles River Aquatics six times a week for three hours a day, but since swimming is of- fered as a sport at the high school, Mumtaz cannot receive credit for swimming. Instead, he has a contract for weight-lifting. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY SHAHZAD MUMTAZ.

Senior Shahzad Mumtaz swims at Charles River Aquatics six times a week for three hours a day, but since swimming is of-
fered as a sport at the high school, Mumtaz cannot receive credit for swimming. Instead, he has a contract for weight-lifting. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY SHAHZAD MUMTAZ.

Senior Shahzad Mumtaz got a contract for his weight lifting team outside the school. While he swims at Charles River Aquatics six days a week, because swimming is offered at the high school, he gets credit for his weight lifting side training.

He said fulfilling the extra components of the contract is cumbersome.

“It is difficult for the majority of students who play a sport outside of school, because just the requirements for the contract are just a bit tedious,” Mumtaz said.

According to Jacobs, the added elements to getting contract credit are to ensure that the contract is educational and not simply recreational and so the student can share their sport with the rest of the school.

“You’re getting credit for a course. All of our courses have some kind of work with them. It’s not recreation; it’s educational and that’s the big sort of dividing line,” Jacobs said. “We are making this a course, just like all our other classes have work associated with them.”

Jacobs said the extra work for students who use the contract is because she is unable to communicate directly with outside coaches. She said she trusts the school’s coaches to keep tabs on the students, but that level of trust is not established with outside coaches and trainers, who might not understand the high school’s fitness curriculum.

“Another piece is that the coaches are employees here, so we have direct contact with coaches checking in on ‘did this student complete the season.’ They let us know if something comes up,” Jacobs said. “Then this outside contract, it can be anybody in the community who happens to lead a yoga class or a ballet class or a fencing class.”

Meanwhile, students like Mumtaz on outside teams for sports offered at the high school must take a fitness course in addition to their outside training in order to get credit.

For senior Maayan Landy, who rows at Community Rowing Inc. between six and seven days a week, getting a contract for her sport was not possible because crew is offered as a spring sport at the high school. Landy said she spoke to Jacobs her sophomore year about getting a contract and was told it was too late to receive a contract and that she should instead consider rowing for the school instead of her outside team. She decided the contract wasn’t worth pursuing and took yoga instead, which she has been doing since her sophomore year.

Because she trains every day after school, taking yoga in school to get credit takes away her time and energy, Landy said.

“I think it’s a lot of effort to be put into the health and fitness class if you’re an athlete and you’re exercising every day,” she said.

Senior Shriya Rathi said she thinks the amount of work student-athletes with an outside contract are required to complete is unfair based on the stan- dards placed on student-athletes who play on school sponsored teams. Rathi participates in Indian dance outside of the high school to receive credit. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY SHRIYA RATHI.

Senior Shriya Rathi said she thinks the amount of work student-athletes with an outside contract are required to complete is unfair based on the stan-
dards placed on student-athletes who play on school sponsored teams. Rathi participates in Indian dance outside of the high school to receive credit. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY SHRIYA RATHI.

Senior Shriya Rathi participates in Indian dance outside of the high school and has a contract with Jacobs. She said while she understands the reasoning for the extra work, she still thinks it is not fair that students on high school sport teams are not required to do it.

“The essay is definitely tedious because you’re reading the same book over and over again or you have to teach a class to one of the freshmen health and fitness classes,” Rathi said. “I understand why students have to do it and it makes sense as part of the contract. It’s not too much extra work it ends up being like four or five hours, but it’s not the same as taking a sport at the school where you don’t have to do that.”

Jacobs acknowledged the discrepancy between workloads for students with contracts and students who are on high school teams, and said ideally students on sports teams would have to do educational work as well.

“It would be nice if there was an educational component with the sport thing,” Jacobs said.

However, according to her, she wouldn’t be able to keep track of work from every student.

“I am one person. I do K-12 health and PE in the system, and it would be impossible for me to have every kid on every team do that kind of follow up work,” Jacobs said.

Director of Athletics Pete Rittenburg said the policy for getting contracts is based on holding students accountable for their work outside the school and making sure they are really practicing their activity for the amount of time they need to.

“I think it’s just a level of accountability to make sure that people were where they said they were, when they said they were and that nobody is abusing that system,” Rittenburg said.

According to Landy, the lack of acknowledgement and credit for her hard work on her outside team is discouraging.

“I think I do a lot more than most people in the school, more than a lot of the teams that are offered here,” Landy said. “So to not be recognized and to not have that count as a sport and as time spent exercising is very frustrating.”

Sarah Gladstone and Izzy Meyers can be contacted at [email protected]