Balancing Sports with School

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By Nolan Sargent ’20 

High school, for most students, is about sports and social life. Those two aspects are two things that drive the average high school students, but there is an aspect less talked about, that requires more focus.

That aspect is academics. For junior hockey player Colin Walsh, that is a responsibility he undertook with passion from freshman year until this year, his junior year. “Freshman year was easier, I understood the classes and I could study to the minimum amount and be fine,” Walsh said. “But when I got to sophomore year I had to really focus and spend more energy.”

Walsh took two AP classes sophomore year which attributed to the damaging cycle he found himself in. A cycle in this case is when an athlete finds themselves doing the same thing over and over each day. “It creates a burnt out athlete and student, one that will nap during class or play games just to find something new to do” Walsh said.

Students who fall into a cycle find themselves falling behind in school, and in their social life. Not being able to make time for new activities burns out the student, and creates an environment that is dull and repetitive. One such victim of this harmful cycle was club hockey player Thomas Miner. “I really found myself losing interest in school and especially hockey, which was something I always found myself enjoying.”

“Although it seems impossible to break through a cycle, it can be as easy as taking a day off to hang out with friends,” says senior rugby player John Dowling.

Like most athletes, John Dowling has found himself in a cycle that hurt his ability to perform in school. One thing that separates him from other athletes, is that he found a way to break that detrimental cycle. “One thing that helps is taking a day off,” he says. Most athletes despise the idea of taking a break, but sometimes it helps just clear your head and give yourself a new aspect to your day.

John Dowling has gone through 4 years of athletics with Regis, and found that stopping athletics that weren’t helpful to his development helped him develop a healthy cycle all while being able to maintain his athletics and social life.

Another detrimental aspect of academics and athletics, is the tough schedules. One such person with a tough schedule was previously mentioned hockey player Tommy Miner. As a club hockey player, his practices are later at night, which requires him to complete homework right after school. “It requires a discipline that most athletes don’t have, and at times, even I don’t have.”

According to an article written by a student at Penn State University, athletes are constantly being told to reconsider their majors, because with their athletic schedules they are unable to keep up with the demands of difficult majors and difficult sports.

Yet, maybe the most detrimental aspect of balancing athletic and academics is the athletes inability to keep up in school. Walsh said, “When you enter sophomore year after an easier freshman year, it really requires more attention to schoolwork instead of anything else. It becomes the wake-up call, and without it, I probably would’ve failed.”

Sophomore year Walsh took 2 AP classes, which most students wouldn’t dream of taking in their second year of high school. This really blasted a red light in front of him, saying that athletics and academics had to be balanced correctly.

Despite these negative effects of balancing academics and athletics, there are many positive aspects. When balanced correctly, most athletes go to better colleges, receive better grades on tests, and are overall happier people.

A study performed by Kansas University for the 2011-2012 school year, showed that a higher percent of students that played sports, received better grades on school-wide tests. The same study also proved that athletes have better attendance rates.

Attending school on a daily basis helps, and especially with rules saying they had to in order to compete in the practices and games. CHSAA rules state that an athlete has to be at school the whole day before a game, in order to play in the game. This rule prevents ditching and students not attending school, only to be at the game.

Lastly, balancing school and athletics provide better opportunities for college. A study done at Boston College on acceptance rates for students, they found that 62.5% of students that apply are athletes, and 30% of those athletes have a scholarship they are applying with, usually athletic.

Balancing school with athletics doesn’t seem worth it a lot of times, but in light of that study, the proof is there that they both can be accomplished and provide student athletes with better chances at schools that strive for not only athletic greatness, but academic too.

All over the country, students are faced with this issue, and a lot of students find ways to overcome. While there is no definite answer, there are many ways each student can use or come up with to help them become not only great athletes, but overall the best people.