Athletics provide balance at a hard-working school
Let’s just say it: King’s is not an athletic school. We haven’t been and won’t be in the immediate future. King's is not the school athletes come to with dreams of going pro. This is not the school where students religiously wait for Saturday football games.
Of course, the school does have athletic programs, and it’s not to say that athletics don’t fit at King’s. In fact, TKC’s emphasis and focus on academics is great for the school and the athletics. Academics help the athletics thrive and vice versa. While TKC’s primary focus is “rigorous academics,” athletics provide a learning curve that helps form productive habits for a lifetime, while providing unity and community, a constructive distraction to academics and helping the College become well-rounded.
This school doesn’t fulfill the romanticized ideal and mold of college or athletics—and that’s okay. King’s focus rightfully isn’t athletics. College is a learning institution, not a stepping stone for professional sports. (Even if it’s made out to be one now.) But it should be considered that King’s is still very much a college—not a traditional one—but still a college.
Learning at college is not confined to the classroom. You would be hard pressed to find one King's student who has not had to learn (or at least to pretend) how to be self-sufficient or to manage time well.
There is a delicate balance with athletics and academics. Naturally, academics takes priority. Student athletes must maintain a 2.0 GPA in order to be eligible to play. Some might argue that athletics diverts attention from academics. But is this really the case? King’s students are some of the most dedicated students out there.
College itself is hard enough without multi-tasking. Student athletes are the ultimate multi-taskers. They’re students, exec team members, nannies, employees and still athletes. They have to learn to juggle their King’s load with their team responsibilities and whatever else they may do.
Those who do so successfully become better students because of it. They’re forced to grow and adapt and follow a learning curve that’s necessary to their own survival. And while they might not remember what they learned in Old Testament or Logic 20 years from now, they’ll probably still be able to manage their time and get their work done without driving themselves crazy.
Jeremiah Gill, the varsity men’s baseball captain put it this way: “The athletes at King’s are a unique breed…Sometimes their whole weekends are devoted to a tournament out of state, forcing them to work around that and use their time wisely. Sports not only brings in a different kind of student, but it builds good study habits that will last a lifetime.”
Athletics aren’t simply something the College has to bolster their appearance to other schools or prospective students. While that’s an unintended positive effect, the appeal of athletics to prospective students provides the College with a greater dimension and appeal of being a school that provides a strong education and numerous extracurricular opportunities.
“When they [prospective students] see a college with a fantastic location, professors, and classes AND vibrant extracurricular and athletic programs, it makes the institution on a whole much more appealing,” Grant Olson said.
Apart from catering to prospective students, athletics provide an outlet for many current students. There’s a change of scenery from working and the classroom. Practices, games and road trips are opportunities for students to experience community and unity in a different form—outside of the House functions and the classroom. Athletics provides a unique identity for team members—a different type of fostering relationships and friendships. Teammates not only experience wins and losses together, but they’re able to celebrate or commiserate with each other about academic and athletic matters that others may not understand the same. And nothing’s better than someone who can finally understand how tired you are from practice with exams to study for and papers to write.
Tristan Kelley said, “I have a deeper friendship with the other players on the baseball team and athletics here at King’s has gave me a place where I could continue playing the sport I love while getting an education. The athletics program has been a blessing in when coming to King’s I wasn’t expecting to play sports.”
This unity isn’t just limited to a fraternity within the teams. Although King’s teams don’t have a strong athletic presence within other leagues or within the College itself, the opportunities to grow are limitless and eventually one day it can be a source of pride. If the college had the success of the debate team and any number of athletic teams, the chances that school pride and excitement go up exponentially. That day is yet to come, but just having athletics is a start.
Athletics lend balance to students' academic lives. It allows for a change of scenery and a chance to de-stress. It gives them some time to work out, breathe and not stress about what assignment’s next. Athletics allows for students to experience the city in a new way while still in a college atmosphere that won’t be available forever.
There’s nothing bad or wrong about athletics at King’s. It only becomes a problem when the athletics takes over the original purpose of college. But because students are so structured, focused and motivated on academic and professional goals, that does not look to be a problem. Rather, having a balanced athletic program is only something that can make the students, and school, stronger in the end.