IB students and Sports

Today I attended basketball games in Antwerp, Belgium.  I watched our HS boys and girls play against teams from Dusseldorf and Antwerp.  The competition was tough and the games were exciting.  There were IB students on both teams.

I know how much work they all have due next week.  The seniors, in particular, have their History IA due on Friday.  They need to have all their data collected for the Science IAs by the end of the week.  Right around the corner their TOK and Extended Essays are due.  It is overwhelming for me to even think about.  Yet, there they are, playing basketball all day!

To make matters worse, the referees show up nearly an hour late because they were misinformed of the starting time.  Thus, added time to this sports event automatically gets tacked on.  That’s one hour less of studying time!  Of course, they’ll be exhausted after this day of travel (one hour each way) and two intense games so they’ll probably take a rest or nap when arriving home.  There is more time deducted from IB studies!

There is no physical way possible for these students to complete everything this weekend.  So, the assignments will drag into next week and as additional work is piled upon them, some things will simply need to be postponed.  They have to make a decision of priorities. 

The debate rages on year after year as we watch the beleaguered, exhausted, red-eyed, stressed, overwhelmed year 2 IB students drag themselves through this “crunch time” of due dates.  As they trudge off to after school team sport practices and prepare for evening or weekend games, something seems to always cry out within us IB teachers, “They should not be doing sports!”  It just seems like too much and it takes away from their studies and from producing exceptional work.

However, as I watch them play today, I embrace their energy.  I hear their grunting and expressions of struggle in a difficult game.  Their faces glisten with moisture. Their sweat permeates the room.  I observe determination.  I feel victory and defeat.  I sense satisfaction and triumph.  They are experiencing life.  They are building and growing in important ways.  I see comrades.  I see friends.  I see a support system.  I see connections that will last a lifetime.

So, even though I regularly question whether IB students should play on sports teams, in the end, I will advocate for the continued practice of allowing them to play.