To the editor:
My name is Elle Mead and I am a senior at Lindbergh High School. For my anatomy class, I decided to research the effects sports have on the overall health of students at LHS. Through thorough investigation and research, I have some interesting information that parents, teachers, and most importantly, students should know.
Here’s what I found- Before researching the overall health playing high schools sports has, I understood the bare minimum: that athletes are typically physically healthier and stronger than their non athletic counterparts. With myself being an athlete I also know the struggle of balancing school and my sport at the same time. I wanted to know – is it really worth it?
My research concluded that student athletes experience significantly higher stress. This can result in insufficient sleep, exhaustion/fatigue, digestive problems, elevated anxiety and performance-related burdens. Findings suggest that college athletes experiencing substantial stress are more likely to practice unhealthy habits and experience psychological issues. Similar negative effects include the risk of failure leading to poor mental health, risk of injury, eating disorders, burnout, and exercise-induced gastrointestinal tract discomfort. Along with the fact that high school athletes alone account for an estimated 2 million injuries as well as 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year.
Ninety percent of student athletes report some sort of sports-related injury. Including one of the most serious injuries, concussions. 3.8 million concussions occur each year in the U.S. 5 to 10 percent of athletes will experience a concussion in a season, with football players at the highest risk.
Although playing high school sports include the previous risk factors, it is important to note the positives as well. ust on the educational outfront, athletes have been found to have better time management, have higher grades, and miss less school compared to their non-athletic counterparts. Additionally, high school athletes are more likely to pursue higher education and achieve higher quality employment.
While students in athletics have a higher stress level, they also have a greater sense of purpose. Studies show that students who participate in extracurricular sports are more likely to be active participants in their communities and engage with social and charitable issues.
Similarly, sports and physical activity can impact mental health by fostering feelings of safety, connection, and purpose – ultimately leading to better mood states. Sixty-seven percent of polled student athletes at LHS stated that playing their sport improved their mental health.
Integrating sports in education can also help to reduce levels of anxiety, stress and depression. Physically active students commonly have higher levels of confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth.Student athletes are also more likely to make healthier choices. They are less likely to participate in unhealthy or risky behavior, such as drinking, using drugs, and becoming teen parents.
Not only do student athletes benefit from when they are competing, but even retired athletes have a higher sense of nutrition, exercise, and overall health compared to non athletes.
All in all, despite the fact that athletics do come with risk factors, the lessons learned and positives outweigh the negatives. It is critical to remember balance, too much of anything, including sports, can be detrimental.
Lindbergh High School