Should High School Sports Have Cuts?

Katie Schwartz, Staff Writer

In this day and age, cuts are an inevitable part of high school athletics. Whether it be gymnastics, tennis, or track, many sports have way more students trying out then they have coaches and resources to support them. Many schools simply do not have the budget for a C-team. While this can take a toll on students’ self-esteem from an early age and halt their motivation to continue the sport by other means, an Edmonton Journal opinion report finds, high school sports are also more competitive than middle or elementary school teams because they compete at a higher level, and prepare athletes to be recruited by college scouts. Let’s see what IHS students have to say on the controversial topic of high school sport cuts. 

The National Federation of State High School Associates (NFHS) acknowledges the drawbacks of cuts for not just the students involved: “They’re bad for parents to hear about, for students to be a part of, and for coaches to deliver the news.” Yet the NFHS also believes they are “a necessary building block in the process to create the best sports team possible.” This is a difficult balance to achieve because at high school level, the coaches, the parents, and the students especially, want their team to be the best it can be. Sophomore Tevi Segal has a lot of friends who play sports so he knows the value of making cuts. He says, “Cuts are good to weed out the less skilled players and keep only the ones who can help the team go far.” This is a popular opinion because it is very rare that varsity or JV teams will be accepting of inexperienced players. 

Writer Mark Rerick of NFHS references this idea as well, discussing how JV is designed to bolster students’ abilities so they can make varsity the following year: “The intent of the JV team is to build those kids up to be ready for varsity. And when we have enough resources, a C team allows us an opportunity to keep more students active in our sports.” Similarly, junior Tyler Innes encourages all students to find their place in school sports even if they do not make the best team. The IHS varsity Swive team member says, “Everyone deserves to be on a team even if it’s just for fun. Coaches can put the best people on a team that scores points and the others on a team whose scores don’t actually count, like an exhibition team in tennis.” Innes goes on to credit his JV experience for his improvement up to varsity level this year.

At IHS, soccer is a cut sport. In fact, senior Priya Joshi was cut from the team sophomore year, and feels that perhaps the judgment calls in that regard are not as fair as they could be. Freshman volleyball player Zoey Schuler supports the idea of impartial judging as she states, “I think coaches should not be biased despite anything that’s happened in the past. They should also allow an appeal process for any students who think they were cut unfairly.” Joshi felt that she should have been placed on JV rather than been cut: “I feel like cuts should be made on varsity but not on JV because there needs to be a team for the kids who want to play for fun. Then they can make cuts on the varsity team for the people who play competitively.” 

According to a Poll from online news site Coach & Athletic Director asking whether school sports should have cuts, 92.7% of voters say yes but only 7.3% say it makes more sense to offer a no-cut policy. Reader comments in favor of cuts include reasoning such that, without cuts, the teams will be too large to give the one on one or specialized instruction needed to develop the best team. This comment cites the opinion that most of the team’s top players proceed to college level and thus need time to perfect their skills. An important perspective can be seen in a second participant’s comment: “I believe it is a privilege to be selected for a team, and not a right.” Other opinions include seniors wanting to be granted scholarships for athletic performance so they want as much practice as they can get, and that the higher your school teams ranks, and the more games they win, the better the reputation. This is more likely when playing with a carefully selected roster. 

A perspective on the other side of the spectrum, provided by Brooke de Lench of Moms Team, a resource for parents of sport-playing kids, argues that school is a sanctuary where all students, regardless of ability, deserve to be included. If you need to play on an exclusive team, then pay to join a selective club team. Yes, the students who got cut could still play for fun outside of school and club, but that is not the same as being on a real team representing your school or getting to experience going up against other teams. Some argue that the point of school sports is to be entertaining, fun, and educate students on how to work with a team and show dedication by coming to practice every day. How else can they learn this if they cannot even get started on a team or do not have the money for lessons? Perhaps having a varsity team and then a no-cut JV or C team that gets close to equal play time, use of equipment, and well-organized competitions is one viable solution. 

Overall, there is a case for both sides. Allowing students to play in order to learn, have fun, and improve is important, but so is having a competitive team to build a reputation and allow stellar athletes access to what they need in order to excel in college sports. So long as everyone has a fair chance to work their way up to varsity level and partake in sports regardless of skill level, that is all part of a great high school experience!