The Thrill of Victory

As the father of a Division I football player, I know how much time it takes student-athletes to prepare their bodies to excel at the sports they play. Strength and conditioning, practice, and film review take at least 20 hours a week. That doesn’t include a summer regimen that can be even more brutally time-consuming. The games themselves take only about three hours.

High school athletes, generally speaking, might not spend quite as much time preparing for competition.

MSMS athletes, specifically, never do.

Our school demands students to prioritize academics over sports. We produce occasional individual state champions in sports like tennis or swimming; we are occasionally competitive in soccer, though I don’t recall ever getting past the second round of playoffs.

So why do we bother? What’s the purpose of playing interscholastic sports where our school’s core values make it less likely that we will be on a level playing field?

I appreciate the ways people learn teamwork, time management, and goal setting through athletics. I certainly don’t detest sports. However, would an intramural sports program serve our school’s needs better?

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18 Responses to The Thrill of Victory

  1. Kayla Williams says:

    MSMS provides rigorous and expansive classes for students willing to put in effort, but this school does not attract many athletes aiming to play after high school. The amount sports offered here are minimal, but it is enough for a student who wants an athletic outlet while pushing themselves academically.

    Many kids have always had a sport to play. I have no desire, and little to no chance, to make a career out of any of the sports I have tried, but swimming and playing soccer at MSMS forces me to focus on something other than schoolwork, and without that healthy distraction, I would have burnt out a week ago.

    Being good at both high academics and athletics are not mutually exclusive. The sports offered at MSMS provide a lifestyle for student athletes that is familiar to the old life they had.

  2. Andy Chen says:

    I feel the current level of student athletics offered at MSMS well suits the needs of the study body. Academic education is the focus of our school for a good reason. MSMS was founded to allow gifted students access to an excellent education. I would call that effort a success.

    Despite the primary focus on coursework, we still manage to offer a wide array of sports. The major difference is that these sports are offered in the form of informal clubs rather than recognized competing teams. This distinction, I feel, offers many benefits to our students. A student can participate in many sports without feeling the need to overcommit to one. If a student’s chosen sport is not already a club, it is relatively simple to make it one and get others interested.

    On the other hand, the argument for a more serious intramural sports program does exist. While on the surface, MSMS is a STEM school (I still get texts from old friends asking how ‘math school’ is going), that is not the whole picture. The breadth and depth of humanities offered at MSMS is enormous and a lot of emphases is placed on those departments. We acknowledge the importance of a balanced education with a mix of both the sciences, but we also acknowledge the importance of our physical health. Time will tell if such a change is possible and desirable.

  3. Darshi Kher says:

    I understand where this comes from. I play tennis with a passion and at my old school I played tennis everyday for at least 2 or 3 hours. At MSMS, there is not enough time given left out of the day that can be put into extracurriculars.

    MSMS does not really attract athletes, although there are always some individuals like myself who do sports and carry a good academic score. The sports here are also not prioritized as well as other schools. Some students might want to get recruited with a certain sport, and also get a good education. MSMS should allow these students a opportunity to be recruited. Getting outside of school work can also help lower stress levels and take your mind off of other things.

    Although MSMS is known for their academics, that is not all we offer. It is encouraged to have some sort of activity so you are not always doing school work. As for intermural sports, this would be great because it would not be required to go to all the practices and you do not have to know how to play the sport either. Getting intramural sports would be great for the school.

  4. Carter Scaggs says:

    I think the reason MSMS has sports is because many students enjoy playing them. Sports have been a part of human culture for a long time, and many families encourage their children to carry on the family tradition of playing, whether it be soccer or football. I think one of the main reasons we don’t have a football team, is because there are not enough students that are passionate about playing it.

  5. Joy Barner says:

    The interscholastic sports of MSMS give students an opportunity to worry less about their academic life. MSMS is built mainly for the academic aspects of high school. Sometimes, the pressure of academic life can get overwhelmingly stressful, and the introduction of a sport may help lessen that burden on students. Students may be able to function better academically when they are able to pursue interests other than their school presence. The inclusion of intramural sports may not intrigue the minds of MSMS students. Most if not all students have an internal force that strives to be the best, and sports that are not competitive may leave students uninterested in the sport itself.

  6. Petra Herrmann says:

    MSMS does not put the same focus on sports that other high schools do but that does not mean that sports are an unimportant part of the MSMS experience. Sure, it is less likely that students here will have as much time to train, and practice given the rigor of the academics, but each individual is different and for some that may be enough to make them feel confident in their own abilities even if they are not ranked first. That self-confidence seems much more valuable especially considering that most of the students here likely aspire to have careers outside of the sports they play. While very few of the students here may end up playing on the same level as their counterparts from other high schools, sports are also about the enjoyment and the lessons learned while playing them as much as they are about winning. The enjoyment that can come from scoring a goal or coming together as a team seems as memorable as winning a big game and it is that community and accomplishment that keeps people playing sports even if it seems like there is no purpose to doing so.

    One of the best things about MSMS is that it’s balance between prioritizing education and providing an outlet for creativity and ways to foster community. I feel that MSMS’s sports teams achieve that, if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have teams in the first place. Sports can provide a break for students and keep them healthy, both of which help make them better students and versions of themselves. Keeping sports competitive helps give weight to what the teams are doing and provides opportunities to engage with other schools and challenge us. Learning to bounce back from a disappointing game or performance helps us grow as individuals and can make us better players. For the students who wish to play a sport but didn’t make the team or do not wish to commit to the team have many opportunities to join clubs for these sports as their way of being involved in them. For these reasons I feel that the sports teams at MSMS should stay competitive.

  7. Samar Rahimi says:

    Though sports are a great way to allow students to express themselves and engage in activities that require exercise, I do not believe it is the primary focus of anyone in MSMS. Sports teams are vital in every school, and many students use them to forget about their academic duties and have fun. However, MSMS will always prioritize academic success over athletes, and I do not think that is a bad thing.

    The current sports teams offered in MSMS are efficient in giving students time to have fun in an extra-curricular while staying focused on their academic achievements. The sports teams here do not take up too much time, which is perfect for the type of students MSMS acquires. If there was a need to expand the sports curriculum, such as giving more time preparing for competition, students would be more than capable of bringing up the concern and making a change. However, students have yet to feel that their sports need that much attention.

    Students come to MSMS for the high opportunities in education, hence the “Opportunity for Excellence” slogan. Most students I know here, including me, have little to no interest in pursuing an athletic career, even if they are a part of a sports team. This means there is no need to further extend our sports curriculum. I do believe, however, that it is important for students to have the opportunity to join sports teams and be athletic, since it is healthy and will help them have a brain-break of sorts.

  8. Miniya Thurman says:

    I think having sports at school whether they are competitive or not is a good thing. It gives me a break from not worrying so much about school 24/7. I sometimes play volleyball after study hours to get a break from all the assignments. Even though I’m supposed to be school-focused I think it’s good to have an outlet that’s not academic related. Just hanging out with my peers and laughing keeps me from not stressing and helps me go back to my assignments with a more awake mind.

  9. Manpreet Singh says:

    Sports take people’s minds off the academic aspect of students’ time at MSMS. Some people are competitive and like to compete in sports. It is not the focus of a student at MSMS. The sports at MSMS are not time-consuming and give students more time to prepare for competitions. Most students at MSMS don’t have the goal of being in an athletics career. Having an intramural sports program would not serve our school because there are people who are competitive and want to go against other teams in Mississippi. Also, there might be sports that a lot of students might not be interested in because it is not that competitive.

  10. Manjot Singh says:

    MSMS is a school that focuses mainly on academic excellence. Most people who come to MSMS don’t plan on playing sports in the future. So the amount of sports offered here is minimal, but at the same time, it is enough for people who want to use sports as an outlet.

    I personally don’t plan on playing sports in the future, but cross country is fantastic as an outlet for me. It lets me focus on something besides school and the tons of work I have and is also healthy and a way for me to get some exercise.

    Even though MSMS is known for its academics, it’s not the only thing that is offered here. But at the same time, it isn’t meant for those trying to pursue sports as their future career. Sports are more of an outlet than a future.

  11. Manpreet Singh says:

    Sports are a good way for people to take their minds off of their academic time at MSMS. The sports at MSMS do not take much time so students can go back to their studies. Having an interest in sports that students can pursue will help them better function academically. Also, most students don’t have a goal of pursuing a career in athletics. Furthermore, having intramural sports is not a good idea because a lot of students are not interested in one particular sport.

  12. Manpreet Singh says:

    Being in sports can help students take their minds off of their academic time at MSMS. The sports at MSMS do not take much time so students can go back to their studies. Having an interest in sports that students can pursue will help them in their academics. Also, most students don’t have a goal of being in a career in sports. Furthermore, having intramural sports is not a good idea because a lot of students are not interested in one particular sport. Also, students are very competitive in sports that are given here at MSMS.

  13. priscilla garcia says:

    I think the main reason MSMS offers select sports is to give the students a break from their work. Yeah, it’s necessary that we prioritize academics here, but it is also crucial that we also do something we enjoy to benifit our mental well-being. Schoolwork 24/7 is a lot, but it doesn’t seem as bad when you have something like a sport practice to look forward to. People here come from all walks of life, while some may not be super competitive, others live for competition. Though MSMS is a school for scholars, it is still so important that we are well rounded and appreciate even things that we don’t find super fascinating.

  14. Jennifer Bui says:

    MSMS is notorious for its rigorous classes. Students spend the majority of their time with their noses in their books and faces glued to a screen. As an academic-based school, we do not focus on sports. We do not have a football season nor a basketball season. That is not to say we do not have any sports. There are numerous students that particiapate in soccer, tennis, and etc. These students tend to find sports as a good way to destress in between classes and studying.

    However, for those students that do not join a team, MSMS implented required wellness hours. Students are forced to take a second to worry about their mental and physical health. Whether that be a walk around campus or joining the volleyball club. These required wellness hours along with the few sports that are provided are enough for MSMS students. The addition of futhering interscholastic sports would take away from the princples of MSMS. Though it is possible to balance both studies and sports, it would be very difficult to study for these challenging classes and attend every practice.

  15. Sebastian Harvey says:

    I play on the MSMS soccer & tennis teams, and I still share a lot of the same sentiments as you. I think American culture prioritizes high school sport way too much. I come from SHS, where being on the football team is a much bigger deal than academics. I think it hurts people who would have a much higher chance of making a good living through education then destroying their bodies and suffering brain damage with no money later on.

    I love soccer at MSMS: I can be a small fish in an even smaller puddle, instead of a small fish in a pond at SHS. I’ve gotten so much joy out of schooling people who have barely touched a soccer ball in their life, and overall it has been a wonderful and invaluable experience. However, I don’t know why I wouldn’t have the same amount of fun playing intermural soccer against other local club teams.

    Honestly, MSMS needs sports as a recruitment tool. High school sports in America are part of our culture, and removing it would be both radical and hurt the school in recruitment. Many people go to MSMS knowing they can shine on whatever sports team they’re good at and would probably stay at their old school if they knew MSMS didn’t have sports.

    Sadly, it’s a cultural thing, and if MSMS has its best interests in mind it would keep sports as a recruitment tool.

    Note of correction: our soccer team progressed to the THIRD round last year and won district (whoop whoop big deal). 🙂

  16. Clara Jennings says:

    As someone who played varsity softball at my previous school, played in the band, sang in the choir, and participated in dance. I say that having academics and athletics and balancing it was a very difficult task. With the workload that is placed upon students at MSMS, I believe that athletics and academics should not be mixed in this environment.

  17. Ava Bodmer says:

    I can agree with this statement in full because of my experience not just at MSMS but at my old school as well. My main priority at my old school was athletics, being an athelete over a student, it just kinda worked out that way. I came to MSMS for the purpose of putting my education first, it is more challenging this way I now realize. I value my sport because I am able to get out and put my work in something physical and not mental. It’s just like another hobby you may have, just something to do to distract you mind from all of the rigorous demanding work of the school day. That’s why I do it, just something to distract myself and fill my days with team work. My favorite aspect of it though is the competition. Competition really is the main thing about keeping me in sports, this is because I get so much adrenaline for winning while also doing with a team is great too.

  18. La’Shaunda Otis says:

    I was once an athletic student participating in softball, volleyball, basketball, dance, band, choir, and cheer. I’ve never had an issue with balancing academics and having a life because for majority of my days I was too busy to stress and this kept me happy.

    Coming to MSMS I had to balance academics and life for reals. This was horrifying, because who actually studied and did work outside of school? Due to this, sports no longer were a reality, but a fantasy. MSMS should have more sports for more kinds of people instead of just the current ones. This is mainly because even nerdy MSMSers need something to motive them and keep them engaged. An intramural sports program would only appeal to grey giving people and that’s horrible.

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