One of the key components of high school is sports. The stereotypes are countless -- the jocks get the girls, the attention, and who could forget about the lettermen?
There's always a lot of talk about those who are on the sports teams and what they do. But what about those students who don't make the sports teams, where's all the talk about them?
Tryout days for teams are a day above all others in the eyes of a teenager. You enter the tryout with the knowledge that not everyone will make the team because for most teams, it's inevitable that there will be cuts. And although no one wants to face that dreadful feeling of being cut, it's a devastating reality for many teens.
The impact of that devastation has prompted some new ways of making cuts on high school sports teams.
The classic way of announcing cuts is what you see in all the movies: A list is posted on a bulletin board with everyone gathering around, fighting their way through the sea of people, hoping to see their name on the list; then -- if your name isn't there -- hiding the disappointment while others around you are celebrating.
Posting names on a list is a routine that's not practiced as frequently today. This approach is seen as impersonal, because it does not provide any feedback, leaving an athlete oftentimes confused and feeling as if he was ignored.
One new way of going about cuts is to meet with players individually and let them know how they can improve. Although this method may prolong the length of tryouts, it is beneficial in the long run. Feedback is encouraged; for an athlete, having something to work on and knowing why you did not make the team is a lot more helpful than just knowing that your name was not posted on a list.
In order to provide opportunities for more to be involved in high school sports teams, more and more districts are implementing no-cut policies, meaning that below the varsity level of playing, no cuts can be made.
Not every freshman who comes to a tryout will be ready to play and compete with seniors, but someday they will be at that level. However, if a freshman is not at that level and she is cut, she may never have the courage to try out and improve again. So a no-cut policy still allows for a competitive varsity team while allowing those who are not quite to that level to still grow from the experience of being on a team by playing on lower level such as junior varsity.
The flaw in the no-cut system is you may end up with team members who are not entirely serious about being on a committed team. High school sports are competitive and the athletes are not just there to give it a shot and not be fully committed. There are other programs for that, such as city recreation teams, and it's not fair to those who are serious about the sport.
However, even a system with cuts can have this flaw because only holding a few hours of tryouts with athletes does not always expose their true colors. You can't always base how committed someone will be for an entire season upon a single tryout.
As a child you're taught that you shouldn't base your self-esteem off of what others think of you. Sports teams provide an opportunity for teenagers to feel as if they belong. They help them build upon a fragile sense of self-worth and help define what type of person they become.
It is often argued that being cut from a team is something that prepares a student for the world. In adult life you won't always get every job you apply for or every opportunity that you would like to receive. However, those who get cut from sports teams are sometimes students whose self-esteem is already low. They may be lacking the confidence and not making a team only furthers this problem. So those who do not make sports teams are the ones who could benefit the most from the experience.
The bottom line is that system is flawed and needs work. Cuts are not an easy thing for anyone to deal with, whether it be the coach or the student. The tryouts for teams should be thorough, and offer feedback, so that mistakes aren't made, because the devastation of a mistake will forever impact a student's teen years.
So remember that with every letterman-wearing, girl-getting athlete there's a student who didn't make the team and is left sitting on the sidelines.
Caitlynn Kindall is a junior at Ogden High School who enjoys softball and running. Email her at email@example.com.