Spoiler alert: almost none of the best college essays are about sports.
Generally speaking, students try to make their case for writing about sports in one of two ways. Students have either spent many years playing a particular sport or have spent an inordinate amount of time learning about, watching, and/or gathering stats (read: obsessing) on a sport. Below we’ve broken down our responses:
“My dad taught me how to catch a ball when I was two years old and I’ve been playing baseball ever since. I’ve poured my heart and soul into this sport, made the varsity team as a freshman, and hit a home run in the finals game which made me the town hero.”
First, anything that you’ve spent 15 years doing will undoubtedly be included in the activities section of your application. As we’ve said many times before, writing about anything that appears anywhere else on your application is a major no.
We know that’s a tough pill to swallow, but you have a very limited number of opportunities to add depth to your application. If you could describe yourself to your dream college in only three words, you wouldn’t use “athlete” twice. They already know you play baseball.
Second, the winning goal essay is extremely overdone. It’s florals for spring. We can hardly count the number of times we’ve heard it, so you can only imagine how many times an admission officer has read it. It’s an accomplishment, but it’s certainly not a way to stand out.
“I understand!!! But I was extremely introverted and had a hard time in social situations and playing baseball really helped me to break out of my shell and gain confidence.”
We are really (seriously) glad this happened. Sports can be a good way to bond with others, create lasting friendships, and overcome obstacles. No one is taking that away from you, but as it relates to writing a college essay this path still won’t work.
Think of another way to write about this. In this case, you’re still using sports as a way to shine light on your development and because of that, your essay will be filed under the “sports essay” category with a thousand others. They won’t see your personal growth. Use something else as a vehicle to show your progress.
“I don’t play football but I know everything there is to know about the sport. I know the stats, I keep detailed excel documents, and everyone comes to me for fantasy football advice. I watch football every single week with my parents, and have been since I was a child.”
This is more common than you’d think. The biggest issue with this essay is that it doesn’t say much about you. As fun as it may be, being a sports fan doesn’t speak to any of the unique qualities you have. You’re looking for a characteristic about yourself that you haven’t had space to explore yet, and a weekly football watching date with family and friends doesn’t cut it. Essays about loving a sport also tend not to have a narrative arc: remember that you’re looking for a story with a beginning, middle, and end.
Don’t worry, there will undoubtedly be something else for you to write about. Don’t sell yourself short by focusing on a sports related hobby and brainstorm other stories you can tell about yourself.
In the history of TKG, we’ve made a few exceptions to our strict no sports rule. One example was a student who wrote about surfing. This is because teaching surfing lessons was a job and the essay was about an experience with one of his students.
We’d love to talk about some of your ideas. Contact us here.