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Understanding the athlete

Editor’s note: Inspired by the movie “The Breakfast Club,” student columnist Sarah Oliveras chose to create a five-part series based on the stereotypes explored in the 1985 film. In this column, the second in a series, Oliveras considers the film’s second high-school stereotype — the athlete.

Oliveras
The stereotypical athlete is a young man who is known for excelling on the field, for under-achieving academically and for always getting the girl. Infamous for showing off in an attempt to impress their peers, athletes appear to be clones of one other, doing only what is deemed appropriate for their social group.

Many people view athletes, particularly varsity players, to be extremely confident and at times conceited. As one West Linn High School junior said, there is a difference between self-pride and being overly confident in your capabilities. People want to feel good about themselves, and being self-confident includes being proud of what you can do. Confidence may at times be misinterpreted as cockiness, however.

Poor academic marks are frequently associated with athletes, when in fact, this is not true. In 2012, the grade-point averages of WLHS athletes placed in the top 10 of the 46 total 6A schools in Oregon. Boys track placed third in the state, with an average 3.55 GPA, and girls tennis placed sixth with a 3.7 GPA. According to the WLHS junior mentioned earlier, many athletes, including varsity players, take on a hefty class load that includes multiple AP courses. And they are achieving relatively high grades.

The stereotype that athletes perform poorly in academics is unsubstantiated. In our high schools athletes achieve some of the highest academic marks in the state. That stereotype, along with many others, exists only because we created it.

Stereotypes are generalizations. They do not give us insight as to who people are as human beings.

At school, we see many different kinds of people, but we never see who they really are. The so-called “jock” could very well become the next Broadway star, and the “drama geek” may happen to be working on finding the cure for cancer.

Everyone has a story that the majority of us will never know. Many people come to school putting on a face in an attempt to mask the pressure they feel to change themselves so they fit in and receive the approval of their peers.

As my WLHS junior friend said, “Pressure exists if you are striving to be someone you’re not used to being. Pressure is a choice.”

I agree. Pressure is a choice. If you choose to focus on what people expect of you, you’re going to feel pressure to be someone you are not. However, if you choose to ignore others’ demands and focus on being true to yourself, that pressure may be alleviated. Focus on being as true to yourself as you possibly can.

In regards to those stereotyped athletes, they are not just athletes. They too have a story that we may never know.

For all we know, they could be brains, basket cases, princesses and criminals, just like the rest of us.

Sarah Oliveras is a sophomore at West Linn High School. She is contributing a regular column to the Tidings this school year.




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