An athlete’s dilemma

Ellie Moran, Reporter

Coming to school tired and burnt out. Getting no sleep. Never in the right frame of mind. Performing worse on tests. Feeling a lack of self confidence. Struggling to keep up with life moving around me. The struggles of balancing a sport with the rest of life’s responsibilities is absolutely a challenge.

Being an athlete in high school can be a demanding commitment. The challenges of school sports can have a lasting impact on both mental and physical health. Increased anxiety, fear of failure, and overall mental exhaustion are all familiar feelings for far too many athletes. Being involved in a competitive commitment can take a toll. 

For me, my sport has always been an escape. I’ve met some of my closest friends through cross country. When I feel stressed or anxious, I go on a run. I get to see my friends every day at practice, and I genuinely enjoy spending my time with my team. Even with these positive aspects, being involved in a competitive sport brings on many obstacles. With the demanding and rigorous schedules of an athlete, it can be difficult to manage other factors and stresses in life.

 School and studying occupy much of my time as a student, but with the extra time dedicated to my cross country season, sometimes school becomes even harder. Cramming the night before a big test, sweaty, sore, and overwhelmed after practice, is an unfortunate feeling I know too well. Even with my two years of experience being on the team, balancing the rest of my life with racing and practicing is something I struggle with on a daily basis. With studying and chores, sometimes I’m up until midnight scrambling to check everything off my list. With less sleep, everyday tasks become much more difficult for me and everything becomes a little more stressful. When much of my time and energy goes into running, it is hard to distribute this energy elsewhere, like hanging out with friends or family. Just when I think all the work is over for the week, away meets, usually lasting most of the day, overcome other weekend plans. 

On top of this, attendance is also a huge factor for coaches. Typically, school sports have an attendance policy allowing for little to no days off or absences, preventing many from being involved in other activities. Having cross country every single day after school, I rarely attend clubs and I miss opportunities.

Throughout my time on a team, I have dealt with the many physical and mental challenges of being committed to a sport. With all of these stresses and time commitments due to demanding schedules, there are many challenges I’ve had to overcome so that I can appreciate the more positive aspects of my sport, however difficult that may be.