When activities don’t play well with others, choices must be made: Extracurricular activities battle for the attention of Blake students


Students feel the need to pick

Alex Feldman, Staff Writer

I have played football since fourth grade. This past fall was my last season, the glorious senior season of lore, and I was not going to miss my chance to play an integral part on the team. But after a few weeks, I noticed the announcement in the bulletin about auditions for the musical (the musical was in the fall this year, as opposed to its normal time in the spring). Drama was an extracurricular I had only recently discovered, but one that I found very exciting. Not quite knowing what I was getting myself into, I attempted to pursue both activities.

Part of the reason I decided to audition was the supposed existence of an unwritten rule, which states that coaches cannot take away an athlete’s playing time if he or she is participating in another Blake sanctioned activity (so long as the athlete is still prepared and “deserves” their role).Despite my initial optimism, some problems immediately emerged. Practice schedules conflicted. Additionally, neither activity could be “made up,” since both are team activities.In addition, on the rare occasion that I was able to do both activities, I did not start homework until very late, causing a decrease in the quality of my academic work.

Furthermore, the only supportive individuals turned out to be my peers. In fact, the biggest critics of my schedule were the adults in both activities. Coaches and directors told me I had to choose if I wanted to make an impact. Worse still, I discovered that no such rule or understanding actually exists, effectively invalidating all the time I had spent on both activities. However, narrowing our extracurricular focus is directly opposite of what Blake normally tells us. As students, we are encouraged to pursue as many activities as possible. How do we deal with this contradiction between explicit and implicit policy?

Athletic director Nick Rathmann states, “We try our darndest to work with student athletes.” Rathmann alluded to the difficulties of participating in athletics and other activities, but also remarked that students sometimes “have to choose” on days when conflict is inevitable. He also pointed out that “there’s nothing in the Upper School handbook, but there’s something in the middle school handbook that suggests not taking a leading role in a theater production if the student is also playing a sport.” Above all, Rathmann encourages students to talk with their coaches to devise a specific schedule for absent days, what team material will be missed, and the effect it will have on playing time.

While the school will certainly continue to promote participating in varied extracurricular pursuits, students should be given a fair and honest talk about the possible consequences of pursuing multiple activities. Coaches and players should both be held accountable to an agreement by signing a document that commits the student to a specific schedule. I have learned through experience that last minute planning is a surefire way to make everyone unhappy. Regardless of what the administration decides, we should at least be given a straight message by all of the adults in the Blake community.