High school sports: Pushed to a collegiate level?

Cole Hook

Exhausted from 4 hours of grueling football practice, Senior Landon Gray heads off to the only hour of Rugby practice that he can attend today. He tries not to think about the homework and a project he has to finish tonight. He lucked out today; at least he doesn’t have to go to work too. Such is the life of many student athletes. Bogged down with multiple sports, extra curricular activities, and work, many students don’t ever slow down. This raises the question: Are high school sports demanding too much of our time?

Gray is a prime example of a student who has a hectic schedule. As well as being involved in football and rugby, Gray is also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and his youth group. Furthermore, he is involved in many church activities. Like many others, Gray believes that all of the practices he goes to are only useful to a certain point. “I feel like practicing is helpful. But there should be a line of where you cut it off. Obviously, more practice will be more helpful. But I mean we are high schoolers. We have a life besides school and sports; it unfortunately might not seem like it, but we do,” Gray said.

One might consider the amount of time demanded from high school coaches to be similar to the amount of time dedicated to sports at a collegiate level. Gray agrees with that idea. “It’s kind of gotten to the point where you are pushed so hard to be great. I mean this is high school. We are supposed to have fun, not being pushed so hard to win, win, win,” Gray said. Girls Varsity basketball player Sr. Addy Gerig agrees. “I think the amount of stuff we have to do and the amount of time we put in is similar to that of collegiate athletes.”

Instructor and Coach Paul McNitt recognizes that there are a lot more activities that student athletes are involved in, and for longer than when he was an athlete in high school. “I think the biggest difference with high school sports now is there are so much more clubs and stuff to do that you lose a lot of kids, not for the season, but for the offseason. And I would almost say, when I played a basketball game, I knew it was one of 20. Whereas now, guys and girls today that might be their 100thgame this year. In a lot of sports, the high school season is just a small part of their annual games,” McNitt said.

Collin DeShaw is a former WO student athlete who participated in football, diving, baseball, and golf. Recruited by the University of Michigan for diving, DeShaw is getting his first taste of being a collegiate athlete this fall. Not shockingly, DeShaw is finding that college sports are much different than high school sports. “(They) are definitely more competitive and there is a lot of extra things we have to do like weekly team meetings, hosting recruits, and volunteer work. You spend a lot more time with your team and doing sports-related things in college than in high school,” DeShaw said. However, Gray, Gerig, and DeShaw all reported roughly the same number of hours spent practicing a week for their sport: 21-24, 18, and 22.

Though student athletes are pushed to be at all practices, all weight lifting sessions, and all open gyms they can, it is up to each person to only get involved in activities they can handle. It may seem like you are practicing as much as a collegiate athlete, and you may be; but only you know if you are being pushed too hard. Don’t be afraid to cut back on activities in order to keep your sanity.