No, You can’t write about (just) sports
Here’s why– if you write about sports, the likelihood of your essay being cliched, or, worse, of you not realizing it’s cliched– is mighty strong.
But also, Yes, you can.
If you can make a surprising connection while writing about sports, you’re golden. Admissions officers will remember you for (most of) the rest of their lives.
Example of brilliant sports essay
(Hint– it’s not about Sports!)
Here’s an incredible essay by Natalie Diaz, an amazing poet and thinker and former b-ball champ:
She is not writing about basketball– she is writing about basketball, and.
Basketball and _______:
- violence against Native peoples
- how Brown bodies are subjugated
- growing up poor
- the visceral nature of writing as a body used to being in motion.
- cultural navigation
Sports, And What?
If you are hell-bent on writing about sports, I suggest making your list of and‘s.
Consider: Why are you writing about this sport, really? What other story about your life is it helping you tell?
Avoid these cliched approaches to sports essays
I could recite the following essays in my sleep, because I’ve read them too many times. So have you.
No surprises here. Please don’t write these overdone, canned essays– even if you really mean them.
(And I really believe you mean them)
- “And then I heard my ligament pop and knew my life would never be the same.”
- “I learned that life is like a game and you need to be a team-player!”
- “We turned in around in the last quarter, and that taught me I could overcome anything!”
(Because, actually, that’s a premature conclusion! MAYBE you can overcome anything; or maybe you just overcame this.)
I believe in being a realist with teenagers.
When you step beyond the cliches and the lessons you could have read somewhere else, you learn something more true, and more valuable, about your life and yourself.
Get your game-writing on
Here’s steps to stronger, more physical writing about sports.
Do push-ups or squats– move your blood and feel your body. Work it hard.
Sit down with your favorite writing tools and music, if you like.
Come up with a list of at least three AND’s. Jot them on the top of the page.
For each “SPORT and”–elaborate; write for at least 5 minutes without stopping or judging, allowing your mind to make connections you might not have seen before, consciously.
Likely, one of these will prove a better and more effective sports essay.
Review- or send us— the results.
Remember your real win
If you get into your schools of choice with this sports essay, great. Amazing. Applause.
Maybe, like Diaz’s, your essay’s originality and downright athleticism will be so loved by audiences it will be anthologized and read for decades (mention us if that happens, we love you!),
No matter what– you will have the real gold, the real win: increased self-knowledge, insight and depth as a person.
For almost all advice I’ve ever given, some student has written a brilliant counterexample.
Curious about writer and former sports giant Natalie Diaz?
Yay, I’ve done my work!
“I’m willing to go to any part of my history and mythology to find those emotions,” says Diaz.
“Writing doesn’t ever fully satisfy me, and that’s why I do it.”
Want even more? Us too.
Listen carefully to Diaz, you’ll learn so much (it’s long but no longer than a sports game. Slow time.)