When people think about college sports that will get them or their children into school for a healthy scholarship, they probably think about major sports like basketball, baseball, football, or soccer. Perhaps there is also some thought about volleyball and field hockey.
However, there is another sport that is making waves at the college ranks, and it may not be one that the average sports fan thinks of often.
So, what is this sport?
According to CollegeScholarships.org, Fencing is a lucrative sport to look into for parents who want their children’s’ gifts to be used to pay for college. It is not a new sport by any stretch of the imagination. It dates back in many forms to ancient civilizations. After all, it is essentially a for-sport version of sword-fighting. Fencing as we know it, however, began during the end of the 19th century.
It is an individual sport, although the individuals may be broken up into teams, and it judges the competitors based on their swordsmanship. The reason that it is a good sport for potential scholarships is that it is a very specific sport which, while not as big as the others, has some interest that schools are supporting athletes.
Uniqueness makes some sports something of a novelty. While fencing isn’t on your average ESPN broadcast, it is a popular enough sport to be in the Olympics. A bonus, according to CollegeScholarships.com, is that fencing offers monetary rewards in non-college competitions. This means there is earning potential for avid fencers that may be hard to come by even from athletes in the more popular sports.
Nine out of the top ten schools in the country have fencing programs, so the skill could have academic benefits for those who are willing to put in the time and effort that is needed to get to that level.
Currently, the NCAA has sponsored 34 men’s division fencing teams in division I and II and 43 between the two in women’s fencing. Division 1 schools are allowed five women’s scholarships and four-and-a-half scholarships for men’s programs. That four-and-a-half number is also the limit for Division II schools.
The scholarships are given to the best of the best, so there may be stiff competition, but those who are interested, motivated, and skilled enough can take a path that isn’t always thought of to their education and possibly beyond.
An economist’s point of view
On a recent episode of the podcast Freakonomics, economist Steve Levitt explained why fencing is such a good idea. Levitt sees fencing as a good path for those who don’t necessarily want a career in athletics but want to scholarships that come with being one.
“The answer, I think, is you want your kid to be a fencer,” Levitt said. “Okay, now you might say that sounds crazy college fencing even exists. And the answer is there turn out to be exactly 46 schools that have fencing. But the correlation between quality of school and having a fencing team is incredibly high.”
Levitt also points to the other scholarships can get besides the normal one, and while fencing isn’t a shoo-in for the young athlete, their chances of getting into one of the nation’s top schools are 15x greater as a fencer as they are if they are trying to get in on sheer academics. Statistically speaking, this is not just a reckless claim.
Other sports may come with the glitz and grammar, but for those who care more about the quality of education and the school where they may receive it, the benefits of fencing should not be ignored. Nothing comes easy, but parents who have this in mind would be smart to explore fencing possibilities in their area.