Running into my second season of track and field as a high school sophomore, I was just beginning to hit my stride. Hurdling was gradually becoming instinctual for me as I had been practicing it for nearly a year. I had just run my first few varsity races when I suddenly felt a radiating pain in my ankle one day after practice. With a critical meet the next day against our rival school, Indian Hills, I hoped that the injury was only temporary. The only thing on my mind was winning the track meet. After I competed the next day, I immediately regretted my decision when I could barely walk after my final race. This injury cost me a large leg of my season. Had I abstained from competing that day, I ultimately could have propelled myself to new heights.
According to Stop Sports Injuries Statistics, “high school athletes account for an estimated 2 million injuries and 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year.” Many eager athletes are forced to forfeit their seasons due to lack of proper equipment, nutrition, or preparation. Such aspects of athletics are essential for preventing brutal injuries in any sport. As an aspiring star athlete, I know that the intolerable physical pain of an injury is often overshadowed by the exhausting mental pain. This imbalance is because modern high school sports are extremely competitive. All ambitious athletes want to help their team succeed and are motivated to sacrifice evenings of leisure for countless hours of work and dedication. Their commitment and passion makes them restless for improvement and glory, and no high school athletes want to miss out on such opportunities. So, if they sustain even the most severe injuries, they still insist on combatting themselves instead of missing out on a few games.
In essence, it is imperative that athletes dedicate time to rest in order to prevent permanent injuries. An abrupt day off, taking time to ice the affected area, or a brief doctor’s visit could avert weeks of pain and inactivity. For high school athletes, skipping one game or one day of practice feels exactly like missing out on a whole season, but ultimately they are promoting a healthier future by allowing their bodies to heal. If high school athletes around the world begin to implement this mentality, then injuries will plummet, and high school sports will continue to be safe, competitive, and enjoyable.