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College Essay Myth: Never Write a College Essay About Sports

College Essay Myth: Never Write a College Essay About Sports

College Essay Myth: Never Write a College Essay About Sports

You’ve probably heard the myth that you should never, ever write a college essay about one topic or another. Sports is one of the big no-nos. Who wants to hear about another come-from-behind winning game, right? But the fact is, as I related in my last blog, there are no good or bad essay topics, only good or bad essays.

Luckily for you, I have obtained permission from my nephew to share his very good essay about – you guessed it – sports. Please read and enjoy – and notice why this college essay about sports stands above the rest.

I’ll give you a hint: He has a sense of humor about himself. He relates his internal story a lot more than the external facts of the game. He comes full circle from the first paragraph to the last, with growth in between. And he writes about something he loves.

(And in case you were wondering, he got into Northwestern University, UT Austin, and every other school to which he applied.)

College Essay About Sports

As a 4’9” high school sophomore, the first couple of weeks on the bench of the JV team brought me to the conclusion that my competitive baseball-playing days were over. In my initial despair, I longed for just one more chance. Ever since little league, baseball had been a part of me. Letting go of it mid-high school simply wouldn’t do. Then I remembered the time when I had filled in as an umpire at the little league where I grew up. The thought of watching baseball games for money, with my only job being to concentrate on each play and make a decision, was appealing. Umpiring wasn’t playing, but it was something, so I gave it another try.

It was a few weeks into my new endeavor. The score was 15-0, top of the fourth, and it was already 9:20 p.m. Although there was no feasible way for the home team to win due to the five-runs-per-inning rule, all games were required to go four complete innings.

Ugh. I want to go home. Hmmm, What if the pitcher were to throw a pitch that were even somewhat close to being a strike? It wouldn’t affect the outcome of the game, so could I maybe make an exception? No, that would be wrong. I can’t do that. In fact, since I am even thinking about this, my brain is probably going to expand the strike zone subconsciously, and therefore I should make a conscious effort to tighten it. Oh God, what am I even DOING?

Umpiring was a bit more complicated than I expected. And, frustrating as it could be at times, I loved it.

As an umpire, I constantly find myself lost in internal debates over my biases that I never experienced as a player. There are times when I realize, with some anxiety, that my decision agreed with what I had personally hoped would happen, or with a previous argument a coach had made, or with the latest grumblings of the fans. Although I generally consider myself fair, I have sudden crises, wondering whether I have committed the ultimate sin in umpiring: letting other people’s “calls” replace my own. I can usually convince myself that these instances are coincidental, but it’s still challenging to take in so much information from all sides about how the game is being perceived, and still be true to what I saw happen.

As a player, one of my favorite parts of baseball had always been the mental game. I filled the “down time” that many others found boring with discussions and arguments with my teammates about strategy or rules. I have carried that aspect over into umpiring, mostly through discussions with coaches. Sometimes the most frustrating part of umpiring is when coaches accept my call without argument even though they don’t agree, saying “That’s ok, you’re the umpire.” Many umps would welcome this submission, but I find it even more offensive than being screamed at. Sometimes I talk to coaches between innings to further explain why I called what I did. These gestures are often appreciated, if not for my opinion, then for my attitude. The conversations are also far more mentally stimulating than the constant dispute the shortstop and I used to have over who should cover second base on a steal.

I don’t wear a glove or swing a bat anymore, but I still consider myself a baseball player. I view the almost 100 games I’ve umpired as merely a position change. Although I have only made “great plays” by shouting my interpretation of what happened, and the pressure of the game is to perform mentally rather than physically, I now have the one more chance I desired. Even as I tower (albeit only by a few inches) over the players in size, and wear a different uniform, I feel more a part of each game than I ever have.


So if you want to write a college essay about sports, go for it! And if you need help with how to say it, The Essay Expert is here to coach you. Check out our College Admissions Services page for more about what we offer and what others have to say about our services.

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