Are Tryouts Fair?

Given that Ridgewood High School has a competitive athletic program, tryouts are often very intense. A large student body with an abundance of athletic talent combined with limited roster spots can leave coaches with tough decisions following tryouts. But the stress team placement does not simply end there: some believe that tryouts do not always provide a fair chance for each athlete to showcase their skills.

Tryouts typically consist of a series of activities where each athlete is given a short opportunity to perform. Depending on the sport, a small scrimmage may take place. However, it can be difficult for coaches to evaluate exactly how an athlete will play in a game time situation from just a few hours of observation.

In addition, coaches may have certain biases; this is not unexpected since each coach is entitled to their own opinion. While one athlete may be more talented, a coach may value the dedication of another. Coaches may look for potential and room for improvement in athletes as well, even though they may have weaker skills at the time. If a program is struggling, a coach may be inclined to accept an underclassman who they recognize as a promising leader as opposed to a senior or junior who would not be in the program for much longer.

Furthermore, certain sports may benefit athletes of a specific physical figure or build. For example, in basketball, if two athletes share similar skills with only one spot open, a coach is probably more likely to pick the taller individual to play at a higher level. In a sport like wrestling or football, it benefits athletes to be incredibly strong.

A lot of factors go into creating the most successful team. Because different coaches have different values, there is no way to make unbiased decisions. However, coaches try their best to give every player a fair shot.

By telling the players the expectations for the tryouts and the season ahead of time, each athlete can gain a proper understanding of the process that he or she will soon experience. In addition, both the athletes and coaches would be aware of what is valued and looked for in a member of that specific team. Ultimately, each player can do his or her best to meet those expectations.

Tryouts may be deemed as fair or unfair, but they inevitably teach valuable life lessons to the athletes. Sports as a whole build character while the competition amongst players mimics challenges that students could encounter in adulthood in the workplace. Being cut from a team for a reason that one did not see as justifiable is disappointing in the moment; however, experiencing such an adversity or unfairness during adolescence will only prepare oneself for the future.

Claire Sullivan
staff writer

Graphic: Evie Cullen

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