The dribble of a ball, a baseball hitting a bat, and the fans going crazy. These may seem like little things in our lives, but they could be affecting us more than you think. Of 208 student athletes at PRHS surveyed, almost half claimed sports contributes to their stress. For example, Chris Harris, a 9th grade basketball player, stated,”It has left me mentally fatigued, and it made it hard to turn in work on time.” He also said he noticed a slight drop in his grades, and that sports made it hard for him to catch up on assignments that he missed. Wil Reed, a 9th grade football and volleyball player, when asked about his opinion on the topic, agreed: ”Sports do occasionally stress me out.”  

    Sports and academics are not contradictory–they can complement each other, The key to accomplishing this excellence in sports and academics, according to Chris and Wil, is time management. Let’s say, for example, you have a history project due on Friday, but you also have a game on that same day and will be missing that class. You would have to get it done early so you could turn it in early and get full credit. Seems easy right? Well, not for some students who wait to the night before to get everything done, but when you do that you fall behind, and once you fall behind it is hard to get back ahead of things, The result is a bad grade, which is not good if you are trying to get into a four-year college.  However, even for students who do not procrastinate, some sport schedules make it very difficult to stay up with work in class.

    For some sports, like basketball and volleyball, as Chris Harris and Wil Reed both attest, you may have two or three road games in a week, which means missing fifth and sixth period classes on those days. In addition, Chris Harris noted, it also means sometimes not getting home until 11:00pm if it is a game in Santa Maria. He added that those type of game nights make it very difficult to get homework done, and when one has several game nights in a week, it is difficult to not fall behind,  

    The only way to stay ahead is to be able to do the work ahead of time earlier in the week, as Wil Reed suggests. Yet, sometimes teachers do not provide that work that far ahead of time in the week, and only assigning new work in class that is due the next day.  Even when teachers have a website, this does not help if they only update it day by day instead of week by week. Many times, a player only finds out what work to do by texting friends after school to to find out what was assigned or looking online to see if the website has been updated for that day, and then they have to do it on the van or bus on the way home from the game, which is nearly impossible, or stay up after midnight.  Nevertheless, as Wil Reed argues, that is the responsibility the student-athlete must accept if he or she is to succeed in both school and sports.

   Even though sports can have a negative impact on students academically , they can also have a positive impact as well. For Will Reed, playing sports “has made me a healthier person overall.” Not only does playing sports have a positive impact on our physical health, it affects us positively in other ways as well. James Hudziak, a psychiatrist in Vermont, reported that kids who play sports are more likely not to do drugs and use alcohol. They also have less emotional and behavioral problems. (https://childmind.org/article/what-role-do-sports-play-in-the-mental-health-of-children/) In addition, according to the Journal of Adolescent Health, adolescents who play team sports in grades 8 through 12 have less stress and better mental health as young adults. Dr. Catherine M. Sabiston, from the University of Toronto said, “The associations we have found show a long term impact. School sports from ages 12 to 17 protects those youth from poor mental health four years later (http://www.cfah.org/hbns/2014/mental-health-wins-when-teens-play-school-sports).”  While playing sports in school can have a negative impact on academics, it does a have strong positive impact on athletes’ emotional and behavioral lives.

    In the end, students who play sports must find a balance between athletics and academics. According to Justin Williams (http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/15885/1/Balancing-Sports-and-Academics.html), “playing a sport in school helps to get us out of our desk and into the action; it offers a break with major benefits.” He argues that “studying can get awfully exhausting, and being part of a sports team can offer you a much needed break to work out, wake up, and then get back to the books.” So doing something physical can help us refocus academically, but academics can also help us athletically.  Williams notes, that “doing well academically can help you be more focused as part of a team” and that academics “also helps teach us logic and problem solving which we can put to good use on the field or court.” Finally, Williams adds that “if you are hoping for a scholarship in your sport, doing well academically will boost your chances substantially.” For Wil Reed, finding the balance between academics and athletics “helps you become a better person and helps build your character.”

   While there are academic challenges when playing sports, if athletes can find the balance between the two and be able to plan ahead academically so that work does not have to be done the night before it is due, then sports can have a positive effect on students: physically healthier, emotionally stronger, and behaviorally better adjusted.   

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