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Are Young Athletes Pressured This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   In today'ssports world, many young athletes suffer the same injuries as pro and collegeathletes. In almost every case, though, high school athletes are not given thesame treatment as their older, more serious counterparts. Most high schoolscannot afford team physicians, and usually barely have on to a sports trainer.This forces young athletes to take on almost complete responsibility for theirinjuries. When high school athletes, serious about competing at the college levelsuffer injuries, it is up to them to get proper treatment.

For example, ifa high school football player is being considered by recruiters, the worst thingfor him is to be inactive. If he is trying to live out his dream of winning acollege scholarship and some doctor tells him to sit out four weeks with a brokenfinger, will he? Yeah, right.

When an athlete is injured, the pressure tocontinue to play comes:

From the coach. This is a position glorified ontelevision and in movies. The typical scenario is that the coach has a"winning is everything" attitude and won't accept that his star playeris unable to play in the "big game." From my experience of nine years,not once has this scenario played out. That stereotype is false. It is true thatcoaches can have the wrong attitude and may overlook their players' bestinterests, but I can't imagine it being that extreme. A very respectable coach(who wishes to remain anonymous) once told his team, "If you tell a coachyou're hurt, 99% of the time he won't think you're that hurt. And if you tell acoach you're sick, 99% of the time he won't think you're that sick." I thinkthis is telling his players to play hard 100% of the time. Any coach who knowswhat he's doing would rather be told of a player's sickness or injury than seethat player not play well. This is a harsh way of getting the point across, butit definitely lets you know what a coach expects of his players. A coach whodemands this attitude will usually get it from the kids he coaches.

Italso comes from the parents. The preconceived notion is that perfectionistparents have unreasonably high standards. The athlete feels so much pressure tosucceed at home that he or she feels there is no other option than to play withan injury. Again, in my years of being around kids and sports, I have never had afriend in this situation. The problem may exist behind closed doors, but mostkids would complain to friends or coaches. Most parents want what's best fortheir children, and if this means pushing them, so be it. I have faith that mostparents know not to cross the line. The pressure is not enough of a threat tomake an athlete ignore an injury.

And finally pressure comes from theyoung athlete. They are the ones who push physical strength and mental thresholdsof pain to their limits. Maybe these characteristics have been passed down fromparents, and maybe their coach has instilled a certain mentality, but I don'tthink expectations from parents or intimidation from coaches is what determinesif a player is going to seek treatment for an injury. I believe athletes developcharacteristics that make them decide whether their injury should be checked ornot. They will be the ones living with that decision for the rest of their lives,not their coaches or parents.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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