In Defense of the Sports Requirement


Ryan Lally '22, Editor

Warning: My opinion may be controversial, but it is, after all, just a high-school senior’s opinion. 


As some students may have noticed, either through email or Mr. Oslica’s announcement at assembly, the days of Priory’s lax interpretation of the sports “requirement” may be coming to a close. Athletic Director Mr. Harold Barker is making a point to stress Priory’s two-term high-school involvement requirement (with one term being an interscholastic sport). And while some students may groan and ask why, I believe this approach is a step in the right direction for our school and our community. Indeed, it is good to get exercise every day. Indeed, it is good to have something to put on a college application. But the spirit of interscholastic athletics which the sports requirement seeks to foster extends beyond these superficial benefits. 

The athletic requirement has been a distinguishing hallmark of Priory for as long as I can remember (on paper, at least). The benefits? Obviously, maintaining a competitive athletic program is a noble goal. The athletic program is a conduit to the outside world by which Priory can convey all we have to offer. In buying into the interscholastic sports requirement, a Priory student must learn not only to respect his classmates and teammates, but also opponents and officials. The discipline and formation provoked by interscholastic competition is an education in and of itself, which is why Priory instituted this requirement in the first place. Thus, a student who does not buy into all Priory has to offer in this field is depriving himself of not only the camaraderie fostered, but also the formation inspired. 

I once heard one of my classmates articulate it best during an admissions presentation: “You get to know someone as a classmate, but you get to know a whole different side of them as a teammate.” Sure, academics and other extracurriculars provide, to a certain extent, an environment of collaboration, but something about the intrinsic competition of athletics is completely different. When you are willing to sacrifice your body for a classmate, you have made a bond for life. To cite an example, I remember a teammate going to battle for another Priory player in a B-team hockey game against Eureka (and miraculously not getting a suspension). To see the passion that my classmate brought to the game that day and to know that he had the backs of everyone on the team was truly inspiring. Small moments like these can not be witnessed in the classroom, but are a fundamental part of a Priory education all the same. 

A third benefit of Priory’s sports requirement is pushing students outside of their comfort zones so that they might discover new passions and interests. It’s not always fun to get to practice, but it builds character and discipline. Life forces a person to do things he or she might not want to do, but learning how to overcome adversity is an invaluable skill that will serve one well later on. 

All of the aforementioned arguments are valid reasons why the sports requirement benefits students. Students learn respect and discipline, form priceless relationships, and learn how to overcome adversity. All of these are key aspects of a Priory education. However, they do not fully represent the spirit of the athletic requirement. Yes, participation helps the student. But through participation, the student realizes it is not about him, but about everyone else. Athletic participation is one of many ways in which a Priory student gives back to his community, to his classmates, and to God for the gifts he has been given. On the overhanging wall above the ground-floor of the high-school lobby is some version of the quote from Luke 12:48: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” We have all been blessed with the opportunity to attend a school like Priory, and to be part of its community. Each of us has his own unique gifts, and Priory realizes this. Some students contribute heavily to the school’s theatrical productions, some students fill the essential jobs of managers and communicators, and other students fill the roles of team-members. But the sports requirement, while beneficial to the student, is essential to the community. Quite simply, we need Priory to help us become better, more educated young men, and Priory needs us to make it the community it deserves to be. So, in conclusion, thank you to Mr. Barker for taking Priory in the right direction and trying to return Priory to the roots which have been so beneficial to students in the past.