One Free Afternoon: The Case Against A Six-Day Sport Schedule

After a long, strenuous day of classes, sports allow us to expend the energy we’ve accumulated from sitting at a desk all day. And undoubtedly, this time has a positive effect on students. However, there is such a thing as too much sports. There is equal value in relaxing during the afternoon or even getting homework done early and possibly sleeping on time.

As a school, finding the balance between these things is difficult. Varsity coaches want six days of training in a week, and that’s what they get. Junior varsity athletes don’t see the point in six days a week, but they practice that much anyways. For every sport except riding, six afternoons are allocated for practice and games. Yes, some coaches will give athletes days off in addition to Sundays, but in general, this is not the case.

The value of rest days cannot be stressed enough. An afternoon off from sports a week allows students time to catch up on homework if they want, socialize with friends, or even play sports for fun without the pressure of an actual practice. It all comes down to choices. A free afternoon grants students choices.

What is the value in forcing students to participate in sports for six days a week? Regardless of the level of involvement with the sport, having the option of an extra afternoon off would be appreciated. A sample of students was asked whether they’d prefer six, or less than six days a week of sports. Of the 90 respondents, over 80% said they’d prefer an extra day off. With that day off, they said that they would do homework, socialize, play sports, or any of the three. A surprisingly low amount (7%) said they’d watch TV or play video games.Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 4.46.31 PM.png

These statistics go to show that students would largely not be bored or have nothing to do during the extra time. And as emphasized before, students questioned talked a lot about choices. One student wrote that, “Thacher’s schedule is so incredibly structured that it can be made almost impossible to find time to do the things we, as individuals, enjoy doing outside of what is already prescribed to us here; it is essential we have ample time to pursue the activities we are passionate about beyond what our school offers.”

Another way it would work well is in conjunction with Quiet Time. One of the biggest issues students have with quiet time is that they lose 30 minutes from an already very packed day. With one weekday afternoon free, taking 30 minutes to relax seems easier. No longer would people be rushed to shower before Quiet Time. Rather, they would have the afternoon to relax and shower, and then Quiet Time to reflect.

Some Varsity athletes expressed the opinion that six-day schedule is crucial to success. For them, there are often two game days in the week leaving only four to practice, which is already too few. However, not even all Varsity athletes want to be playing sports six days a week. The extra day might improve their playing, but it wouldn’t improve their enthusiasm for the sport, mental health, or provide any real long-term benefits.

Some coaches already drop an extra day. My sophomore year, Varsity Tennis got a day off every week at the discretion of the coach, and not only did it help boost team morale, but many players came out and played for fun anyways.

So it seems like a pretty simple decision. The league doesn’t mandate that we practice six days a week. The school does. And if the school wants to listen to the students, it will make a change.