High School Sports: How Much is too Much?

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High School Sports: How Much is too Much?

Junior Bree Park implements time management strategies to help her balance school work with her sports commitment on the tennis team.

Junior Bree Park implements time management strategies to help her balance school work with her sports commitment on the tennis team.

Rosie Gomez

Junior Bree Park implements time management strategies to help her balance school work with her sports commitment on the tennis team.

Rosie Gomez

Rosie Gomez

Junior Bree Park implements time management strategies to help her balance school work with her sports commitment on the tennis team.

Alexis Naddy, Staff Reporter

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   Nowadays, it is normal for nearly every student to be involved in a sport.

According to a 2015 survey taken by the National Federation of State High School Association, or NFHS, more than 7.8 million high school students are involved in sports. To compare MHS with the national numbers, there are currently 536 fall athletes of the roughly 2,000 students enrolled.

As the numbers might suggest, high school sports are great– they offer an opportunity to create friendships, to stay active, to improve teamwork and leadership skills and to get recognition for accomplishments.

However, endless hours of practicing and competing are becoming too much for students to handle. Many students, even at MHS, believe that they have no free time on most days they practice, and they find themselves not finishing work because of their schedule. Additionally, they stay up way longer than they would prefer.

“Our team practices two hours every day of the week except for Sunday. Sometimes, we have games that take up to three hours to wait for and finish. In all, we practice at least 12 hours a week,” said Zach Scott, a freshman who plays on the sophomore boys soccer team.

Scott continued to say that he finds himself going to bed at a much later time than he wants to because he stays at the school until 5:30 p.m. for practices and around 7 p.m. for games.

The amount of time that is consumed by high school athletics is growing and becoming more of a threat to students’ grades and free time. No student looks forward to seeing a failing grade in a class, nor do students want to go home after a long day and spend their night on homework that’s due the next day or on studying for an upcoming test.

“Since JV is supposed to stay and sit on the track for the varsity [football] games, I don’t get home on Fridays until about 11 p.m., so on Fridays I have a really long day from getting up at 6 a.m. to not getting home till 11 p.m. I normally don’t go home after school either because if I did, I would just have to go back to the school right away,” said Junior Varsity Cheerleader Paige Ekstrom, freshman.

Ekstrom isn’t the only student with this issue; along with her fellow cheerleaders, other athletes have similar concerns.

Some may disagree and say that the students know what they are getting into when they decide to be part of a team. But in reality, many students at the high school level join a team just to have fun or to be on a team with their friends. In fact, the Aspen Institute, “a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas” according to its website, found that only 66 percent of student athletes choose to participate because they want to win or improve their skills, leaving 34 percentage points of athletes who aren’t expecting this amount of commitment.

Another athlete at MHS, Bella Cartland, a sophomore who plays on the volleyball team, is worried about the same issues as her fellow athletes.

“I do not have any time free during my season on days I have games and practice. My daily routine involves going to school, to volleyball, do homework when I get home and then going to sleep. I barely ever get eight hours of sleep a night and never enjoy the luxury of free time,” said Cartland.

Cartland also worried that her full daily schedule affects her not only at home, but at school also.

“I don’t always finish my work on time and am constantly finishing it up during the school day and very late at night,” she said. “My workload takes at the least two hours a night to complete, and having to eat dinner and being so run down at the end of the day does affect my working rate.”

Another 2013 study, performed by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), stated 36 percent of female student athletes and 26 percent of male student athletes, an estimated 5.2 million high school students, will quit in order to focus on their grades

Athletes who stay committed to the sport obviously find time management strategies to make their schedules work.

“Matches during the weekend or the week definitely give me less time to do homework, and when I have a test coming up the next day, I will sometimes save some of my homework for homeroom. Most of the time, however, I still have plenty of time to finish my homework,” said Bree Park, a junior who competes on the girls tennis team.

Managing one’s time by saving work for homeroom is a great idea, but when homeroom is only a short half an hour long and consists of plenty of distractions, what can a student do when an assignment takes an unexpected amount of time and doesn’t get done in time for class?

Somehow our culture has changed from wanting teens to stay active and try their best to pushing them so hard to be the best that it is nearly impossible for them to balance the challenges of school, sports, clubs, family events and their social lives.

Another 2015 study that sampled 409 conference athletes from nine different universities found that while athletes are “generally satisfied”, they are “stressed” because the time demands of the sports create “anxiety and a loss of sleep that affects academic and athletic performance.”

The study also concluded that physical exhaustion is a “major issue.” To further this point, in 2002 the average amount of time that was spent practicing for high school athletics was four hours per week.

At MHS, most teams practice six days a week for two hours each. This totals up to 12 hours per week, triple the amount studied in 2002.

Maybe next time practice, game and tournaments are scheduled, the schedulers should consider how it will affect the athletes and their schedules. After all, some students have higher priorities than wondering if they will win their next game.

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