To school I bring two backpacks, one for my notebooks and binders and one for my track uniform and sneakers. I am one of many high school student athletes in the United States balancing academics with sports. During my journey, I have found that being a student athlete has a wide range of pros and cons.
The most obvious perk to being a student athlete is the great physical shape sports create. As stated by Public School Review, “Today’s teens are exposed to an array of entertainment avenues that may foster laziness, such as television, video games, and other media devices, but the traditional experience of sports, exercise, and kinesthetic activities help boost teens’ minds and bodies. Involvement in sporting activities keeps children moving and engaged physically, vital for their overall health and well-being.” Being in such good shape, student’s grades are likely to improve. A study performed by James Pivarnik at the American College of Sports Medicine found that the students, out 317 total, who performed best on fitness tests scored 30% higher on standardized tests than the group which performed most poorly. Along with high marks, being a student athlete is beneficial towards mental health. In fact, during a workout, an increased amount of endorphins are released. This natural high combats depression and palliates stress, breeding happy people.
Besides the health brought to student athletes from sports, sports also brew competitiveness. Competitiveness becomes ingrained in each individual for life. Found by AtYourOwnRisk, 60% of women believe that their participation in sports in high-school gave them an edge to be successful in the business world later in life. Additionally, fostered competition is acts as a great outlet for teens exert their emotions and release the energy which has built up sitting in classrooms all day.
Moreover, one of the best parts to being a student athlete is he beautiful camaraderie existing in teams. Naturally, sports teams become families and teammates become brothers and sisters. This is bond is bound to come about as players spend every afternoon together, devour pasta together, and sing away long bus rides to games together. This friendship teaches valuable lessons for life. According to Live About, “As you and your teammates play, you'll understand the benefits of giving other people the chance to shine.” This lesson translates to unselfishness in the student athlete in that moment and throughout life. In fact, teammates become lifelong friends who are willing to do anything for each other. Also, the bond of a sports team demonstrates the power of teamwork and how anything can be accomplished or overcome when working together. Nothing can compare to the friendships made through sports teams.
While being a student athlete holds many benefits, it also comes with some drawbacks. First of all, time spent at sports practices and games is time not being spent doing other activities. Specifically, the time, right after school that should be dedicated to completing homework, is often pushed into the late night hours. That then eats into the precious time that teens should use to sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a lack of sleep limits one’s ability to, “Learn, listen, concentrate and solve problems. [... One] may even forget important information like names, numbers, your homework or a date with a special person in ... life,” which can seriously impede upon a teen’s academic and athletic performances.
Along with a lack of sleep, another downside to being a student athlete is the immense pressure to succeed. In particular, parents, coaches, teammates, and the nature of the competition can suppress a student athlete to participate in injurious actions. For example, a teen could take harmful drugs, be persuaded to lose or gain an unhealthy amount of weight, or sabotage the opponent in order to deal with the stress. Partaking in these actions would be detrimental to the individual’s conscience and health.
Besides dealing with pressure, every time a student athlete steps on the field, his or her physical health is threatened. Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that, “On average, 2.44 injuries occurred for every 1,000 athletic practices or competitions at the high school level.” The candor of these statistics is scary. Far too commonly, ligaments and tendons are injured and bones are fractured in one wrong step or hit. Additionally, student athletes can easily suffer serious damage to the brain which can temporarily or permanently impair them. Furthermore, student athletes are vulnerable cardiac arrest, in which the heart beats abnormally and blood circulation collapses.
All in all, student-athletes face their various ups and downs. There is no right or wrong answer as to if being a student-athlete is good or bad. However, the perks do seem to outweigh the burdens of of the losses. I would recommend handing in those health forms and signing up to participate in any sport in the upcoming season.