Dragon Boat- more than a “sports” club

While there are many sports to participate in at Galileo, there are also sports that are not officially recognized as a school sport and instead only recognized as a club. With over 60 members at Galileo and thousands participating all over the city there is more than enough interest to make dragon boat a sport, but the SFUSD does not want to be responsible for all the students participating in an open water sport because there is a greater risk of fatality. Without being officially recognized as a sport, dragon boat requires participants much more personal responsibility which can be seen a  hassle on those who wish to participate.

Dragon boat is a sport where there are 20 paddlers, a drummer, and steers person placed on a boat with the goal to paddle across the finish line faster than their competitors. These races can range from short distances such as 250 meters to long distances such as 2000 meters. This is the only coed sport offered at all SF high schools even though it is still recognized as a club.

One disadvantage of dragon boat not being a sport is they do not receive funds from the school district and having very limited resources. The dragon boat team is responsible for finding their own ways to acquire funds including; race fees or paddling equipment. Galileo dragon boat teams can be seen volunteering at marathons or selling donuts down on Market St. when school is not in session.

Also, since the school does not fund dragon boat, students are required to pay for other expenses out of their own pockets. Senior and Captain Drake Lowe stated, “I’ve poured a lot of money to this sport, probably at least a few hundred throughout my 4 years on this team since race fees and team gear is about $30-$50 each. Even though we do fundraise to lower costs for the stuff like this, we wouldn’t have to pay a lot if we had funding from the school”.

Another disadvantage is the lack of school recognition. Most students at Galileo are not aware of the team’s achievement. Over the last few years the team is a three time defending High School Champion at Long Beach and placed 3rd in the Junior A division in Vancouver. Without the publicity of other students knowing the team’s achievements, it’s been hard for them to gain new recruits each year. As Junior Crystal Chen recalls “Every year we show up at club day or freshman orientation, people have no clue what dragon boat really is. Sure we get a lot of people to sign up but only like 5-10% of the people who sign up actually stay on the team which is pretty sad.”

While members of dragon boat would prefer to become a sport, dragon boat being a club also has some benefits. One of the advantage of staying a club sport means that students do not need to maintain a solid GPA in order to join the team. Sophomore George Chong said “ I like dragon boat as a club because you don’t need a minimum GPA in order to join which relieves me since my GPA is not very strong”. This allows the sport to be more accessible to students with poor academics. Another advantage is that students do not need to fill out the SFUSD physical form, a form which is required for any students who wish to participate in school sport. Instead students are covered by the California Dragon Boat Association (CDBA) which is a independent organization that oversees all dragon boat related activities in the Bay Area.

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