Almost as popular as the “My Grandmother” college application essay is the essay about sports.  If you are planning to write a sports essay, you risk boring the admissions committee as much as would a mediocre ballgame.

Here are some tips to make sure your college application essay about your sports involvement makes a good impression:

1.       Whatever you do, do NOT write an entire play-by-play essay about the “Big Game” – even if you scored the winning touchdown or home run. This topic is way overdone.  You can certainly write a paragraph about the game, but then move on to another aspect of your sports involvement.

college essay about sports2.       Consider writing about the experience of being on a team.  What does it take on a day to day basis?  What have you learned?  How have you grown?  How have you balanced your commitment to sports with your academics?

3.       Don’t be afraid to write about your shortcomings.  If you start in a place where you didn’t know something, or where you weren’t on your best behavior, or even where you were injured, then you have somewhere to go/grow to.

4.       Consider writing about your particular role in the team dynamics.  Do you have a leadership role?  If so, what’s your leadership style and how does that style show up in other parts of your life?

5.       Consider writing about what it takes to play your particular position.  Offense?  Defense?  Pitcher?  Outfield?  Team play or individual sport?

What metaphors can you draw from the position you play or from your strengths in the game?

Do you find yourself playing a similar role in life to the one you play on the court or the field — or maybe even the opposite role?

For instance, if you play offense, do you end up being aggressive about winning or going after things in other aspects of life?  Or has playing offense taught you strategies to defend yourself or your positions in life?

6.       Stay humble even if you are a big winner!  You can share impressive facts and showcase your talent as long as you really share something about what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown.

7.       Talk about people and other topics that interest you, not just about the game.  If you’re all about the game, you don’t show your ability to interact with future classmates and you miss out on opportunities to sell yourself to the committee.  Colleges are looking for leaders – and leadership takes more than winning a game.

For examples of successful college essays, The Essay Expert recommends Accepted!  50 Successful College Admissions Essays by Gen and Kelly Tanabe.

Still not sure how to write a great college application essay about your sport?  Contact The Essay Expert for a FREE 15 minute consultation.


  1. Great advice on this one. You’re right; the question about a sports event is too common lately. It was a couple of years ago when I was writing my essays, and from what I’ve heard, still is! I barely remember how mine went, but I definitely used tips 3 and 5, especially since my sport (fencing) was/is fairly unknown.

  2. I have a bad feeling that writing about your involvement in sports is a bad idea like 98% of the time. You’d have to have had some sort of great sports-related achievement to make it worthwhile… Because anyone can join a high school sports team. It’s not really some great accomplishment. And writing about how being on a sports team “taught you teamwork” or whatever is just so banal and predictable…

    But maybe I’m just being overly cynical.

    • I hear you loud and clear, Alyssa! Students need to very careful if they are writing about a sport. They need to have been involved as a leader and be clear about what they learned. My nephew, for instance, was a baseball player turned umpire. He wrote about the decision-making process he goes through as an ump, and his struggle with being an ump vs. a player on the field. He got into every school where he applied, including Northwestern. A strict rule not to write an essay about sports does not do justice to the kids who can write about it in a new, creative way!

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