Sports Opinion: Why Coaches Shouldn’t Expect Early Release (Web Exclusive)

By Dani Egan

It’s the end of fourth period, and the classroom is deserted. Slowly, sports obligations emptied out the classroom as students left for early release, the lesson unfinished in their notes. Some are happy to get out early, some are resigned to the work they’ll miss, and some worry about how they’re going to make up the lesson.

On one hand, allowing students to leave class early for sports games allows the team to beat traffic or otherwise start playing sooner, meaning students can also go home and start homework or other activities earlier. Starting sports games earlier means student have more energy, but that also begs the question of whether that energy should be going toward education in the final minutes of class. While athletes may be only missing the last 15-30 minutes of class, that adds up fast, as it is usually the same period they are missing.

That’s a lot of work to make up, whether by doing classwork or trying to meet with the teacher or talking with a friend about what information was covered. And athletes usually already have busy schedules with their sports practices. Sports teams pulling athletes out of class places more strain on them to learn classwork as well as complete homework.

In addition, while playing sports are fun, relaxing, and teach important life skills, most students aren’t going to make a career out of it. Education is very important to making a living in our society, and it should be prioritized. This entails not only learning itself, but also having the mindset that knowledge is important.

While it’s understandable why sports teams may want early release as an organization, it can be detrimental to the individual team members, as it puts more work and pressure on them, as well as seeming to lessen the importance of education. It would be helpful if coaches could talk to teachers whose classes athletes would be missing to ensure the relationship between teachers and student athletes isn’t strained by early release, as well as discussing options for athletes to make up work, in order to take some pressure off these students. Otherwise, athletes can get caught in the middle, wanting to both support their team and stay ahead in their studies.