BHS Club Sports vs. Team Sports: What’s the Difference?

Berkeley High School (BHS) offers a plethora of extracurricular activities. The athletics department, in particular, offers a wide variety of sports, from orienteering to crew. However, a primary difference between sports offered at BHS is whether they are a team sport or a club team. 

The majority of BHS sports are team sports, organized directly by the school and free of charge for athletes. These include sports such as volleyball, cross country, and softball, and fall under the thumb of the highly-regulatory California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) in the North Coast Section. John Villavicencio, director of student activities at BHS, said, “[CIF] kind of dictates to high schools what they can and can’t do.” CIF regulations can apply to resources, equipment, practice times, funding, eligibility, healthcare, physicals for athletes, and more. The Athletics Department helps to ensure that CIF mandates are correctly applied to BHS athletics. 

Club sports, on the other hand, are not recognized by the CIF. According to BHS Athletic Director, Robin Vegt, “In general, clubs are governed by club charter rules established by [Associated Student Body].” Club sports adhere to the requirements of BHS clubs rather than fulfilling the mandates of team sports. Villavicencio stated that while clubs are more independent from BHS and CIF protocol, each club has a different governing body and can be part of whatever regional or statewide programs its leadership chooses. 

Another pivotal factor differentiating club sports and team sports is funding. While team sports receive funding from the school, club sports find their own funding and practice spaces. James Sheridan, head coach of the BHS ultimate frisbee program, said, “We don’t receive any funding from the school, and we have very limited access to any other BHS resources/facilities. We do have a permit for [the] Jacket field on Sundays, but we have to pay the school for custodial services.” While the team is insured under the club sports policy when practicing at BHS, outside of school they have to find insurance through a separate provider. 

Accessibility is another factor to consider when comparing club sports to team sports. Sports where athletes pay fees, purchase equipment, or rely on parental involvement for transportation pose an equity barrier for some athletes. Nora Kessler, a junior in Berkeley International High School (BIHS) who has ridden for the BHS mountain bike team since her freshman year, said, “Every year, riders have a fee to pay [to participate on the team]. These fees cover our team kits, race registration, and other general payments.” However, Sheridan stated, “As a program, we are 100 percent committed to making sure that anyone who is interested in the sport can have access. To that extent, we have a no questions asked scholarship policy.” 

While there are many nuances between each sport, ultimately, all BHS sports have a common goal; for student athletes to thrive. Team sports and club sports alike provide the means for students to do so.

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