How important are competitive sports for American students and how does school foster and support those competitive athletes?
Sports is of big importance for American students. Many students work very hard and actually do competitive sports. After school, they often straightly go to their training to practice for many hours. I made the experiences with my exchange partner who went to practice every single day for actually two and a half hours! She has many competitions that she has to work for very hard. That’s why she does not even have time to have a boyfriend or to do anything else. After that training, she starts to do something for school, but she is very tired and is only looking forward to her next swim practice. Therefore you can see that sport is of big importance for her.
The most popular sport here in America is football. Little kids are already sent to football training very early. We met a lot of people who go to football practice every day, most of them were boys. The girls are often in a swim team, do cheerleading or they are really hard working athletics. Only a few students, almost nobody, do sports for fun. They actually built a huge stadium for their own cheerleading and football team and a pool for their swim team! You can also see that they’re absolutely proud of their teams, there are slogans everywhere like „Bartow High School; Home of champions!“, they’re highly motivated for their competitive sports.
As you can see, there are many differences to Germany. A point is of course the importance, but another point is the frequency and the time. More often and longer, that is the slogan of the Americans. But it is also on a higher level, they practice as hard as they can. Furthermore, they all wear the same clothes in a team to show their community and to show how proud they are of Bartow.
In America, sports are even more important than school. Normally, you have to get good grades for an academic school or college, otherwise you do not have any chance to become a student of these schools. But the special thing is that when you are pretty good at sports, you do not need those good grades. Sometimes, it is even possible for athletes to get this expensive school paid by sponsors or by the school itself. The high school supports competitive sports a lot. It is possible to skip school for a few days when you need to practice for a competition or your coach tells you to train more. Otherwise, when you skip training several times or when you are always late, you will be kicked out of the team or you are not allowed to attend the next competition.
In conclusion, although sports are more important, a normal education is better than a „sports education“ because there are more possibilities and you have better chances to earn much money in later life than when you are athletic. The students often get pressure from their parents to keep their grades up, so you can see that they really want to get a good job .
Nils Wichelmann & Saskia Ollhoff