The United States leads other countries by outstanding numbers of young athletes participating in sports. In today’s time, athletes begin their sport of choice around the age of four or five and continue with it until high school, college, or pro. These sports give kids opportunities to learn, grow, and be prepared in ways that non athletes do not get. High school student-athletes are more capable to grow in the areas of responsibility, personal health, and teamwork that will be used in adulthood opposed to students that choose not to participate.
Competitive sports began before World War 2 when poor children and immigrants began playing games in streets, allies, and fields. These games would normally be soccer, kickball, or a baseball type game that consisted of two teams. Before the war, middle and upper-class children participated in non-competitive activities such as dance and music. However, when the war was over these children began to adopt the idea of a competitive sport (Friedman). High school sports first emerged throughout Eastern boarding schools. The faculty of these schools did not necessarily oppose this idea. However, “Although teachers did not disapprove, sports were not in the high school curriculum, therefore students played in unsupervised recesses” (Pruter). Soon the sports began to rapidly spread across the country, and with many technical and physical improvements, we now have the sports of today’s generation.
Participating in high school sports prepares your responsibility skills not only in the sport but also in everyday life. While playing a sport you need to be capable of coping with defeat and disappointment, overcoming mistakes, handling discipline for misconduct, being able to manage practice and game day schedules, as well as upholding academic grades (The National Academies of Science Engineering Medicine). In each competitive sports game that you play there will be a winner as well as a loser. If you lose you must learn from your mistakes and cope with your anger, and if you win you must stay humble and content with your victory. This teaches you for future jobs because in the workforce you will not be able to simply give up. Also, overcoming mistakes is important in sports as well as in life because you should use your failure as motivation instead of destruction. When making a mistake at your job you don’t just simply quit, but you work harder to make up for the mistake. Whether you are in the workforce or on a sports field you will be expected to be held accountable for your misconduct. Learning the skills of coping with punishment will improve the rate of misconduct as well as handling the punishment. Being a member of a high school sports team means that your schedule will be full of practices and games as well as managing your grades. This scheduling responsibility will prepare you for future life in a time of an overwhelming schedule.
America is a leading country in competitive sports, however, is struggling in the aspect of academics. Ripley states, “American kids spend two times the time that Korean kids spend playing sports.” This is a proven fact that shows how Americans prioritize, and frankly how Americans are teaching their kids responsibility when allowing this type of action. Sports overrule academics in not only high school, but college and pro as well. In 2012 seventeen percent of juniors and seniors of a random school of choice took at least one advanced placement test compared to the fifty percent that participate in sports. Also, American citizens, coaches, and administrators are setting an example by emphasizing sports and persuading athletes that their responsibility is sports rather than academics. Thus, student-athletes are more concerned with winning Friday night’s game than passing Friday mornings test. This is also allowing student-athletes an excuse to not take their academics head on, which will lead to bad grades and potentially not furthering their education, and end in a minimum wage job due to the fact of not having a degree. By doing this, America is setting a bad example of responsibility for their youth.
When thinking of sports the first thought that comes to mind is physical activity. It has been proven that “Being a student-athlete helps improve the immune system, lose and maintain a healthy weight, prevents bone loss, can reduce heart disease 30-40%, as well as improves blood circulation, coordination, and stamina” (Crowe). Kids who play sports are eight times more likely to be active at the age of 24. Meaning that being a high school student-athlete sets you on the track for a healthy lifestyle in the future. However, there is another side to sports, mental health. Mental health plays a large role in student-athletes lives. Participating in high school sports have been proven to improve attitude, stimulate academic behavior, enhance concentration and attention, and improve classroom behavior (Martin). These skills will follow the student-athletes onto college as well as into the workforce throughout classes and business meetings. High school sports have also been proven to boost self-esteem, establish goal setting, and encourage leadership. Student-athletes in high school are also less likely to use drugs or other substances and are less likely to suffer from depression. Being a student-athlete is chaotic in the fact of long practices, games, uniforms, classes, and other qualifications depending on the sport. However, it strengthens the athlete for the future of college followed by the workforce. Skills are developed throughout these experiences that will improve your mental health, along with help cope with stressful situations.
Although there are health benefits of sports in high school, there are also risks. The risk for physical injury during a sports career is very high. There were 2.6 million emergency room cases in one year from athletes ranging age from 5-24. Along with this Merkel adds that “It is proven that during adolescent years athletes may lose flexibility, coordination, and balance”. This impacts the athlete’s performance along with physical health for a lifetime. The increase in participation in sports causes an increase in medical cost as well as money difficulty. Parents are making more and more sacrifices each year to support their student-athletes. These sacrifices consist of family vacations, savings money, and the possibility of being a normal family. When being an athlete your family is forced to pay many expenses that put stress on the parents as well as the athletes. The athlete is expected to pay for uniforms, equipment, and travel expenses. For a low-income family, these are all very stressful factors that can be taken out on the athlete. Coaches and parents often emphasize winning when playing any type of competitive sports. Encouragement is often a good thing, but sometimes is taken to extremes and can put stress on the athlete. Fans are a major part of sports and often affect an athlete and emphasize their anxiety and social pressure when playing an intense game, which can set them up for failure, and will increase the amount of emotional distress.
Being on a sports team is somewhat like working for a business. You have teammates along with coworkers, and coaches along with supervisors. When being on an athletic team there will always be the role of leadership. Bounds suggests “Leadership is the role of leading each other as well as learning from a leader yourself”. This skill will be used when you begin to work in the workforce. Your boss will be your leader, however, if one of your co-workers is struggling you may lead them. Teamwork also is a lesson that high school athletics teaches. When on a sports team one person cannot make all of the plays, one person cannot run the ball every time, one person cannot carry the team. It takes multiple people bonded together by the same interest which is the sport that they play. This is similar to what happens in a workplace in the fact that “When entering the workforce you will need the group skills of communication, resolving conflicts, have constant effort with your task, working with a team, and maintaining accountability”(Elrick). When playing on a sports team you already acquire many of these skills.
One of the major problems in today’s society is bullying. Bullying happens in schools, on the internet, on teams, in the workforce, etc. When interacting with high school sports there will often be a “team captain”. Normally this is the athlete that knows the sport the best, encourages others, and can run the team for the coach if needed. However, there is a downside to this. Many “team captains” take their roles too seriously. This leads to bullying other teammates. Being bullied at a young age can cause depression and make an athlete no longer want to play the sport. Thus affecting the athlete’s life in a long-term effect in the fact that this experience will remain on their mind at all times. This will make it extremely difficult when entering the workforce because the athlete will not want to trust a supervisor. Individuals that are not compatible with teamwork often struggle in high school sports along with the workforce. Not being taught these skills as an athlete will not set an example for the future.
In conclusion, when taking on the role of student-athlete you have the chance to learn many life changing lessons. The lessons of responsibility, personal health, and teamwork will guide you down the path for success when entering the workforce as well as entering adulthood. Though there are many opposing factors, but it has been proven time and time again that student athletes are better prepared for life’s hardships when graduating high school.