A fair chance

Our Position: Some LT sports programs give unfair advantages to athletes who play on club teams during tryouts.

The struggle for a spot on a high school sports team can be tough. Especially at LT, where there are nearly 4,000 students. The school has 32 athletic programs for boys and girls in total. These programs can only accommodate so many athletes. Tryouts for sports can lead to lots of anxiety and nerves for players— but they are not necessarily a struggle for everyone.

For some high school athletes, tryouts are the only thing upon which the coaches can base their decisions. This does not offer many chances for them to impress the coaches, but these perceived disadvantages do not affect everyone equally. Some of the coaches involved with LT’s high school sports also work for club teams. It is reasonable that the school would seek out coaches who also coach club teams nearby, since they have knowledge and an understanding of the sport. Hence, it becomes a lot more likely that they would have experience with athletes who attend LT. The school runs the risk of hiring coaches who have had previous experience with of some LT athletes.

By all means, this offers an unfair advantage to the athletes who have been coached by the judges of their tryouts. Coaches understand that players can have bad tryouts and know from experience that certain players are not doing as well as they normally would. However, they won’t know if a talented athlete who they had never seen play before is having an off day. They wouldn’t look past it when choosing rosters in the same way that they would for a player whom they know.

In addition, having previously been on varsity doesn’t always mean someone should get a spot the next year. Some people are not as committed as other players who might have competed at a lower level but improved enough to move up. As a player on varsity, one has already proved their worthiness to participate at that level, and should be more likely to have a spot on the team. Yet, it should not be guaranteed and should not allow coaches to overlook other players who are just as qualified.

Another factor that can influence team rosters is parent intervention. Rumours often spread about athlete’s parents contacting coaches about their child’s opportunities to play. That can put coaches in uncomfortable positions. Sometimes a parent’s say holds more weight than talent can in school-affiliated activities.

Imagine that a student who cannot afford to play for a club team tries out for a school sport. This student is already at a disadvantage because they have no prior affiliation with coaches who work at clubs. Just because their family does not have the financial capability to fund a network does not mean they should have less of a chance to play the sport they love. Does that seem fair?

It may seem far-fetched, but there is a solution to this. The school could hire outside coaches to observe tryouts and choose rosters for each team. It would enable LT to maximize its athletic prowess and make tryouts unbiased. In turn, the teams could improve. Although it is not considered a sport at LT, the cheer program has judges come from outside to determine who makes the team. This method could  be implemented for other sports too.

Unfortunately, there is not a way to make everyone happy regarding competitions, but at least this would eliminate those unfair advantages granted to students who do not always deserve them. LT athletics can serve its students better while still maintaining its polished, competitive reputation.

Staff Vote: 16-8