Theater Kids Need Their Sports Credit

Here’s why the fall musical should count


The cast of "A Chorus Line", one of the most iconic and notoriously difficult dance musicals of all time.

Running, jumping, lifting. All of these things sound like something an athlete would do on a football team, but all three activities are done in theater. The cast of a musical works just as hard as any other sport. Not only do we have to do a lot of athletic dancing, while looking graceful, which puts a lot of wear on the body, but we have to do all of that in heavy clothing and makeup, under bright, blinding lights, while singing and having to act as a character. The dances are often extremely fast paced and difficult, as you can see in this video of the cast of Footloose, Juan Diego’s fall musical (see below left). It takes just as much hard work as any other sport does, so why doesn’t it qualify as a sports credit for graduation?

Theater has every aspect of a sports team, more than just athletics. We are a team working towards a goal. We do competitions and even have a season, since Juan Diego does a musical every fall. We have almost daily practices and are even in on the weekends, as the performance gets closer. However, people argue that theater can’t qualify to be a sports credit because we don’t have semi-regular “games” like other sports do. But what we do is harder than a weekly game, because we have so much more to prepare, not with just the cast being ready to act, dance, and sing but also behind the scenes. There is so much to do behind the scenes of a musical, more than in any other sports team. Everyone has to help out with making sure costumes are right, the lighting is perfect, the props are always in the right place, the backdrops are secured, and the sets are ready and have people set to move them on and off the stage, which is usually done by the actors. When you go to see a musical, what you don’t see is all the chaos going on backstage, the narrowly avoided mishaps, and the people it takes to make a show happen. Of course, sports teams also have people to help out, but the sheer number of people with a wide variety of skills needed to create a musical makes it seem like a miracle that any show gets off the ground at all.

All of this sounds like it requires a ton of hard work and dedication, which it absolutely does. The problem is that because of how much time we dedicate to the process, we don’t have time to do anything else outside of school. Even now, in only the second week of rehearsal for Footloose which doesn’t open until November 21, we have rehearsal every single day after school. There is no time for us to be on any other sports team in order to fulfill the required sports credit students need to graduate. Spring sports are just as hard to do because of the play we do each spring. Of course, there are other options such as taking the summer course or classes in school, but those are hard to schedule options as well. Many of us are in shows over the summer that have rehearsal at the same time as the summer course or are on vacation over the summer, and as for classes in school, it conflicts with other Juan Diego programs we are a part of. Most of the drama students are in the Academy of Fine Arts (AFA), which means we have to take a bunch of required classes in order to graduate with it on our degree. For example, I am on the theater track, which requires me to take 4 years of theater classes, among other things. So there is one elective gone, and on top of that we all also have other passions, which for me is newspaper, taking up my other elective.

Another issue with this is that many students who are in AFA, are also in the AP Capstone program, which requires us to take 4 AP classes outside of the 3 required courses for the program. This often takes up the second elective slot, with courses like AP Psychology or AP Environmental Science. So the bottom line is, there’s no room for us to take any sports classes in school. This shouldn’t have to be a battle between graduating requirements. If being in Juan Diego’s fall musical was counted as a sports credit, such a big worry would be taken off the shoulders of theater kids, and it would also bring new people into auditioning for the musical, which in turn helps out the theater department. So allowing theater to qualify as a sports credit would be a win for everybody, which is what all sports teams strive for anyway.


Note: The first video is of the cast of Footloose at Juan Diego in rehearsal. The second video is of the cast Newsies on Broadway preforming on Dancing with the Stars. The third video is of the cast of Anything Goes, the Broadway revival, preforming at the 2011 Tony Awards.