The “hot topic” at Foothill last year was the addition of sports, which created a controversy and divide among students and teachers. Some of the controversy transferred into this year. The most common discussion about sports now is about how (and if) the addition of sports has changed Foothill’s social environment. Many have said that sports have changed the school for the worse, but there are a lot of ways that sports have improved our school. Sports have balanced Foothill in unexpected ways.
First, it balances the praise for Foothill programs. Before sports, all the praise and appreciation someone got at Foothill was for academics. If you weren’t a part of one of the academic programs, it was unlikely you would get any positive feedback from other students or teachers. It wasn’t an inclusive enough environment.
There are many kids who couldn’t be part of the academic clubs. Maybe they weren’t accepted into journalism or BioScience, or they didn’t like public speaking and never joined speech and debate. These students should have other ways to get respect other than academically, and the balancing of the respect doesn’t take anything away from Foothill’s academic clubs. Most of these clubs have been at Foothill since almost the founding of the school. They have been super successful and everyone at Foothill is proud of that. However, it is equally important that we continue to give students different ways to prove themselves and excel.
Another positive change is that sports provide student athletes with a more manageable schedule. Ventura High School and Buena High School both have drastically different schedules than Foothill, so being a student at both campuses can be challenging to say the least. Having sports at Foothill makes it much easier for student athletes. Foothill coaches know the Foothill schedule and try to make their practices reflect the schedule, so athletes miss as little school as possible. Adjusting to Foothill’s bell schedule couldn’t and shouldn’t be a priority for Ventura and Buena coaches.
Foothill has a great community without exclusive cliques. Many people were worried that sports would create the dreaded “sports cliques” on campus. This has not happened. People did not start basing who they were friends with solely on whom they participated in a sport with. Instead, Foothill sports have followed the “Foothill way” of having friends who do different things. People are more aware of who plays a sport and who doesn’t play a sport, but that isn’t different from how everyone at school knows who the speech and debate team is.
One of the most important changes sports at Foothill has made is that it is allowing non AP/Honors track students to succeed. Everyone at Foothill can feel the apparent “divide” between AP and non-AP kids. Especially in junior and senior years of high school, most, if not all, of your friends and social circles are in the same classes as you. The problem is that the AP and Honors students often garner more respect and admiration from peers, faculty and staff. This gap creates the situation where the only way one can “succeed” at Foothill is if they take AP classes. The introduction of sports teams creates another way students can be thought of as excellent among their peers. A person does not need to have a 5.0 GPA to be the star athlete on their team.
Of course, there are some kinks in the sports program, but these will be worked on in the upcoming years. Many teachers are upset that so much of their class leaves on sports dismissal daily. When there is a game or meet for one of the bigger sports, many teachers see a significant portion of their class gone. This problem could be solved by holding a meeting with coaches and teachers to discuss possible solutions. The focus and importance placed on academics at Foothill should not change.
The introduction of sports at Foothill was met with a lot of resistance from students, but now that they are here, they have had immense success. Sports are changing Foothill’s environment for the better, so we should continue to embrace the new direction our school is taking.