From the Sidelines

Participating in school sports is an experience that many may never be able to enjoy.


photo by Meg Rees

As the competitiveness of school sports continues to rise, many students in large school districts are forced out of activities they love.

Lucie Flagg, Staff Writer

Some students count down the number of days until the next football game. They wear their team’s uniform to school on Fridays, and hear the words “Go Tigers!” trail behind them in the halls. All the while, others will graduate high school and soon forget about school spirit and “Tiger Pride”.

Being a student in our consistently trophy-holding district is great in theory, but gloom sets in when I realize that I’ve never contributed to a single championship victory.”

North Allegheny is a huge school district — there’s no doubt about that. With an excelling football team, an award-winning marching band and cheerleading squad, and a student section packed full of lively fans, Friday nights are an unforgettable high school experience for many students. But for some, a large amount of jealousy resonates inside, as their talents and abilities weren’t cut for the team.

I’ll admit it — in the past, I’ve been the one watching the game with a sense of jealousy. You could list any sport, and chances are, I’ve played it. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to hear talk of the volleyball team, when I know fully well that I tried out and got cut two years in a row. Softball, tennis, cross country — all are sports that I’ve tried and failed at.

The world of high school sports has been drastically reinvented in recent years, especially here at North Allegheny. In a bygone time, high school sports were just extracurriculars, but now they’ve practically gone semi-professional. An athlete’s performance on the field can lead to offers from elite colleges. It’s a lot of pressure for a young high schooler, but many are never even offered the opportunity due to NA’s immense size.

Being a student in our consistently trophy-holding district is great in theory, but gloom sets in when I realize that I’ve never contributed to a single championship victory. The kids who try out for athletic teams here must be near-prodigies of the sport, since there’s no such idea of simply “trying it out.” You’re either in it, which involves year-round commitment since at least middle school, or you’re not. Students and their parents pay for personal trainers and private lessons, in the hopes of making a team that, in many other school districts, is all-inclusive. 

It’s understandable that the coaches and athletics department can’t find spots for every student trying out, but other measures can be taken. We could have more no-cut sports, more intramural options, or perhaps more non-varsity team options for juniors and seniors — anything to can give students the opportunity to compete in an NA uniform.

It’s the sad truth at North Allegheny. Everyone deserves the opportunity to play any sport they’d like, but few ever have the chance by the time they reach NASH. Prioritizing only the best of the best is an unhealthy standard that relegates too many students to the margins.

Needless to say, it’s not an easy decision. But if the status quo continues, some NA students will hoist their championship trophies, while most others will only ever watch from the sidelines.