Same sport, less recognition

“Last night, the girls softball team put up a great fight against Lake Brantley, but unfortunately fell short towards the end of the game.” 

This is a typical TV announcement following a varsity game, but what people don’t know was that JV beat Lake Brantley 12-1, just before the varsity game.

It is not uncommon for the morning announcements to disregard JV scores, instead generalizing two programs into one word: “softball.” This disregard for JV teams makes players feel forgotten; as a JV athlete, I am used to it, and I am sure others are too.

Everyone knows that JV and freshman teams are the stepping stones for varsity. If an athlete is really good, they skip the “lower” team and go straight to varsity, but that does not happen for everyone. Just because the ‘best’ players are on varsity does not mean we should ignore everyone else.

JV teams are viewed as less-skilled and are overlooked because they are not varsity. These are essentially feeder teams which prepare athletes for the upper levels of competition. The players on this team learn a lot and are pushed to be a great athlete in order to perfect themselves. This also gives players an opportunity to become acquainted with the team and school culture before being called up to varsity. JV and freshman are like the younger siblings of varsity, but they should still be treated with respect and recognition.

The stigma behind lower-level teams cause some to altogether quit their sport, even if they made JV. Freshman and JV teams are looked so lowly upon and bashed so harshly that athletes feel the pressure is too intense to keep playing. It is upsetting, especially as JV can still be extremely competitive and tough to keep up with; it takes the mental and physical toughness to simply be an athlete. 

A lot of people that have never played on a JV or freshman team do not see the talent that can be produced from certain players. Many people are kept on JV for a while so the team has talent to compete with other schools and some coaches even hold back certain players to wait for them to have a spot on varsity, usually waiting for an upperclassman to graduate. With morning announcements, the journalism program and TV production leaving JV and freshman teams in the dust, no one hears about them which causes these teams to feel left out.

This is the toughest on freshman, who have never been on an official team. Surviving tryouts is an accomplishment on its own. Making it through the season is not easy, and a little encouragement or acknowledgement to these players should be said.

A high percentage of high school athletes play a travel, rec or PopWarner sport as well. These players are usually used to getting more playing time to success. So people hear maybe one or two announcements about a loss, and do not stop to consider that these are new high school athletes, not just new athletes in general. Recognizing these smaller teams will help these athletes get the recognition they deserve.

Varsity athletes get sports profiles in the yearbook and special appreciations from Woof TV because of their “superiority.” While schools usually want to recognize players who have been playing longer, it is important to acknowledge the talent on all teams.  

Girls volleyball, with a record of 8-3 and softball, which is 10-2, are great examples of JV sports that have done amazing with their seasons, but outside of the programs, nobody knows.

With varsity comes views from college coaches. Many previous JV players are now division I or II athletes attending big name schools or even playing for a professional league. This proves the talent that a JV team can hold and the quality players the team has.

No one but the players on that team would know how good they are because of the lack of representation in school media recognition. This lack of support from the school makes us JV and freshman players feel like the hard work we put in was for nothing. Just because JV is not the first name you hear when it comes to high school sports, does not mean it should be pushed to the side or taken less seriously.