The Varsity Athlete Waiting Exemption

Henry Singleton ’19

It is a well established practice at Woodberry that varsity athletes are not required to participate in the seated meal waiting rotation.  Without the varsity exemption, only sixth form students are excused from waiting, while third, fourth, and fifth formers wait a decreasing number of meals every year.  This exemption is not intended to glorify varsity athletes and place them on a pedestal, as it is understood that not every student wants to be or can be a varsity athlete.  It is not even meant to be a reward for earning a spot on a varsity team; rather it is so the athletes can have longer practice times, which they and the teams need.

 For the purpose of this argument I will define two different categories of sports at Woodberry: those more skill dependent (I.e. lacrosse, golf, soccer) and those more conditioning dependent (I.e.swimming, cross country, track).  First let us take the skill dependent sports into consideration. A great player and a great team comes from time spent on the field with a stick or club in your hand or a ball at your feet. However, with many of these large, skill dependent teams the argument can be made that there are many ride-along players on the roster that do not contribute to the team. Thus these “players” are cheating the system and escaping waiting without contributing to the team.  This problem has nothing to with the waiting exemption and everything to do with soft cutting policies, which is another article entirely.

The conditioning dependent sports also need the extra time granted by a waiting exemption to continue training and not miss valuable workouts.  As a member of a conditioning dependent team, cross country, I can speak to the value of the waiting exemption with certainty. On a long day with a seated meal, I finish practice at 5:40 to 5:45, take a quick shower, and half-run to dinner.  Waiters typically leave practice around 5:00. That is a whole 40 to 45 minutes out of a practice. For a runner that translates to miles not run and stretches missed. For a swimmer that is countless laps that cannot be made up, even with morning practices.  

The Oracle, ran a poll on its twitter page asking you whether or not you supported the waiting exemption for underformers.  The results were, at least to me, surprisingly close coming in at 53% support compared to 47% not. With the numbers that close, you may ask “Why not try removing the exemption?” I say to that we already have with Monday advisory meal.  It is to the dismay of many coaches when half of their athletes, who typically never miss practice, miss at least half an hour of practice to wait for their advisory. A second argument by opponents of the waiting exemption is that new boys need to learn how to wait.  They will be able to learn by waiting advisory meals, which almost all students, even most seniors, are required to wait as well.

The varsity waiting exemption is neither a reward for the athletes nor a burden on the other students.  Varsity teams often if not always have longer practices than their JV counterparts. Yes, Woodberry could do away with the waiting exemption, but our varsity sports teams would slowly be crippled.  I do not say this in support of being a strictly athletic based school, but simply in favor of having competent teams. There is no shortage of waiters with our current system, and removing the varsity waiting exemption would only confound a system that isn’t broken.



The views expressed in this article do not, in any way, represent the views of the editorial board, our faculty adviser, Mr. Guldin, nor the opinion of The Oracle as a whole.

Categories: Opinion

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