Should Crew become an official WJ sport?

Andrew Lansell

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WJ Crew poses in front of the school, proud of the community they represent. As cases drop in MCPS, they hope that their membership will return to its former glory.

You first heard about WJ Crew in the morning announcements and got excited to make friends, get fit and go out on the water. After applying, you find out that it’s not an official sport at your school and you have to pay hundreds of dollars for membership. If you or your family don’t have the money to spare for such expenses, you won’t be able to join. Situations like this drive arguments for crew becoming an official school sport.

Crew is a separate organization that only associates with the school through their name and school colors on their jerseys. There is also a Crew Club, sponsored by social studies teacher Jeremy Butler, that participates in club fairs and puts advertisements up around the school for the rowing team.

With a registration fee of $1200 per season, crew provides services for applicants who can’t pay, but this is unique amongst crew teams across the country. Without payment assistance, the enjoyment and benefits of crew is only accessible to students who can afford it.

“It’s unfair for students in less wealthy areas because they will never have the opportunity to play the sport, which grabs a lot of attention in college applications,” senior crew captain Luke Rose said.

Crew members also argue that they deserve to be recognized as members of an official WJ sport purely because of their numbers. Just before Covid, crew had more than 100 members, and they expect people to return after the pandemic. Currently, they have 78 members.

The $1200 membership fee only applies to one season, forcing members to pay $2500-$2750 per year. If crew becomes an official sport, the county would have to provide all of the equipment and training without that yearly income. Other members have expressed their concern over how much MCPS would have to pay for a sport that only exists in a few schools in the county.

“It takes away from the educational purpose of school. It would be way too expensive,” senior Varsity Rower Ethan Aronovich said.
Members have argued that the county offering crew membership for free, as a result of it being an official sport in the school, would eliminate the economic divide that isolates the sport.

“Being considered an actual sport would help some funding problems and also help grow the team,” senior varsity rower Jonny Carlisle said.

Despite disagreements on wanting to become an official WJ sport, the team agrees on their want to participate in pep rallies. They argue that this will help them recruit more members and it’s ridiculous that crew, with so many members that are students at WJ, is not represented in the school event.