Athletic Atrophy In Basketball

Sparks Concern 

Westridge Athletics 
The 2018 JV Basketball Team 
By Caroline L.
December 17, 2018

This year in athletics, teams have had to deal with lower rates of participation. Some sports are thriving, while others are concerned that they don’t have enough members to compete.


Recently, the Varsity and Junior Varsity Basketball teams held tryouts with some of the lowest participation rates in a decade, according to Athletics Department Head Melanie Horn.


“JV Basketball was really low in numbers this year, and a lot of that had to do with so many seniors being on JV basketball but not needing the credit. For Varsity Basketball, we do not want to have more than 12 or 14, but we are a little bit low on that, too,” said Coach Horn.


The low turnout for basketball concerned the students who were already on the team. At first, some worried there would only be enough students to form a single Varsity team, but at the last minute several seniors joined the JV team to ensure that both Junior Varsity and Varsity teams had enough players.


However, the seniors’ motivations for joining the team had an interesting caveat. The seniors drafted a contract to define the extent to which they would participate. The contract’s terms and conditions included stipulations on how many hours they would put in and what activities in which they would participate.


“As seniors, we don’t necessarily need athletic credit this year, but we knew the team was running low on players and wanted to join for the benefit of the team, but [we] made the contract so that we could be exempt from some of the activities because we have so much going on,” said Dalia R., ’19.


Specific athletic team participation can wax and wane over the years. Varsity Soccer has struggled for years to field a team. More students try out for Junior Varsity Soccer even though there is a need for players on Varsity. “I’ve only been on the [soccer team] for two years, but both years I’ve seen a larger turnout for Junior Varsity soccer than for Varsity. We have needed more players in the past, and this low turnout might cause an issue in the future,” Camilla C., ’21, a member of the Varsity Soccer team, said.


Although some teams struggle with participation, others thrive. Varsity Water Polo has had impressive turnouts for years, with far more students trying out than in previous years. “This is my fourth year on water polo, and I started to notice a difference in our numbers last year,”  Aleen B., ’19, said. “A lot more students tried out than I expected, and it’s great to have such high numbers. As a senior, it’s nice to know that the team will be carried by younger members. So far, I’m very proud of what we have accomplished.”


The question now is why this unbalance between sports is occuring when there have not been particularly noticeable issues with team numbers in the past.  Ava Aulabaugh., ’21, has a theory: “I think that, as we move through high school, classes become harder, and curriculums can change from year to year, which might affect whether a person will play or not, depending on their workload.”


The odd participation trends suggest that athletic participation at Westridge is unpredictable. Different variables can factor into why students would choose one sport over another, such as the popularity or difficulty of a sport, but, as for now, it is difficult to speculate the reasons behind this atypical participation.