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Student Athletes Should Not Have to Choose Between Academics and Sports

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Today my teammates and I — the Decatur High School varsity boys soccer team — will play the state final, but it’s coming at a cost.

I’m missing my AP statistics exam, which is annoying to me but can be made up.

Sadly, seniors who are International Baccalaureate diploma candidates had to make an impossible choice. They could either take a test that determines their college credit for IB courses and whether they get the highly prestigious IB Diploma, or play in the state championship.

Unlike me, the seniors cannot easily retake the test, which is one that is given in countries across the world. The only make-up is to come back next year and take it when it is offered in May 2017.

Student athletes should not have to choose between athletics and sports. With the Georgia state final for the AAA division of high school boys soccer scheduled at 2:30 p.m. in Macon during final exams, our IB seniors had to make a very difficult decision.

Decatur High’s soccer team celebrates their victory at semis vs. Oconee High School last Tuesday. Photo by Tom Williams, courtesy of Altizer family.

Our starting goal keeper, Theo Davis, chose to stay and take the test because it is his ticket to a year studying abroad during college. This is just two days after he made two crucial saves when the game went to overtime and penalty kicks, allowing us to advance to the final.

He is taking his test then driving down to the game as soon as he can, but he will likely miss at least part of the game.

It’s ridiculous that the Georgia High School Association scheduled the game during such an important test, but even without this test the game is in the middle of the day. In the middle of the week. If our friends and family want to support us, they have to risk skipping school or work. While some parents are taking time off of work, others aren’t in a position where they can simply ask for time off a few days before and get out of a whole day of work.

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It feels like the Georgia High School Association has failed us, the students, in multiple ways. They made it hard for certain players and supporters to be able to attend the biggest game of the year, which my teammates and I have been working toward since preseason workouts started last August.

There are some simple and obvious solutions, such as not scheduling important games during school hours. IB an AP are two of the biggest providers of tests that colleges look at to determine college credit out of high school, and it would not have been hard for the Georgia High School Association to check the test dates and make sure there were no conflicts for players.

 Baylen Altizer is a junior at Decatur High School.  

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