The realm of sports offers a wide variety of opportunity. In addition to helping people understand team dynamics and giving them the ability to work well with others, the concept of teamwork works hand in hand with the world of academia. Although children may start their athletic careers outside of school, the intertwined nature of education and sports can create opportunity for people of all demographics. While playing a sport can help organizational skills, time management and instill values of hard work and determination, sports can also help put kids on a path towards success and away from trouble. While there are rare instances of people becoming professional athletes and living a lifestyle that exceeds their largest expectations, there are more realistic circumstances of athletics improving the path of people’s lives.
Sports can offer tremendous opportunities, but a large problem arises in their accessibility for certain people. Whether the limitation comes from a school lacking a students’s sport of choice or just the students’s inability to pay for the equipment, certain aspects hinder people from competing in their desired area. Even though this issue of inaccessibility creates problems for people attempting to participate in certain sports, initiatives have arisen in recent years that greatly increase awareness and opportunity. I believe the institution of Harlem Lacrosse, a program started to give low income kids the ability, equipment and opportunity to pursue the sport, has one of the greatest potentials for instituting growth and educational opportunities.
I’ve played lacrosse since I was four years old and have developed a good grasp on the culture that surrounds it. Lacrosse has a relatively small population compared to sports like soccer, football and baseball, and it is mainly concentrated in particular pockets of the East Coast. The equipment costs a significant amount, and this has traditionally led to the sport being limited to wealthy white participants. I’ve played with African American lacrosse players, but the demographic remains largely populated by affluent whites. Furthermore, a lot of prestigious colleges have lacrosse as a sport, and this allows players a greater opportunity to attend a good school. Lacrosse acts as a beneficial tool to help students gain a much better chance of attending not only college in general, but one with a sterling reputation.
The institution of Harlem Lacrosse has created a way for players who couldn’t normally afford the equipment to have an opportunity to play. In addition to helping them get equipment, Harlem Lacrosse also produces a structured program for kids to learn the sport and compete against other teams. By starting to develop skills in lacrosse at a young age, kids who wouldn’t normally have an option to pursue college now have a higher chance of getting accepted.
While other sports offer a chance of lower income students getting into college, lacrosse broadens the window of opportunity because of the relatively small population of players and the growth of programs in colleges across the country. All Ivy League schools possess lacrosse programs, which makes the potential even higher. Students who never even thought they’d attend college could now possess an opportunity to go to some of the best schools in the world. In addition to the skills that Harlem Lacrosse provides on the field, the program offers academic intervention and leadership training.
This program acts as a pioneer in the dynamically changing culture of the lacrosse community, and by helping players achieve their goals, the game can grow and spread.