Sports and Their Effects on Student Athletes

Colby Hintz

Although they may be time, money, and energy consuming, sports provide a learning environment suitable for any kid willing to hit, throw, or swim their way through a competition. Recently, COVID-19 has prevented many of the sports that young adults participate in from being played. Despite the pandemic, students should keep finding ways to be active; sports have a direct impact on academic success and being healthy physically. 

High School sports motivate kids to exhibit academic excellence and help provide a clear path to earning a college degree. Student athlete at Stevens Point Area Senior High, Avery Lilly says, “Sports have affected my life for the better. with ups and downs through injuries and all, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without sports.” This pandemic has affected us all differently, but for many athletes like Avery, the kids just want to get out and compete.

Sports are not just perceived to affect these students lives for the better, it’s proven. In a study done by the Women’s Sports Foundation in January 2018, “Sports participation was directly related to teens having a more positive attitude toward school work, improved academic performance and higher grades, and higher aspirations for earning a college degree and post-college education specialization.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought most of these sports to a halt. Kurt Streeter in an article by New York Times describes a study done by Aspen Institute, he says “The study shows that American children ranging in age from 6 to 18 are playing far less now than before the health crisis. Over all, there has been a nearly 50 percent drop.” He also explained “The study showed that nearly 30 percent of youth who were playing sports before the pandemic were not likely to go back without a major intervention.” This is a serious problem given the benefits sports have on adolescents. 

Sports could also be described as money consuming, time wasting, and a cause of serious injury. As explained by Erica Evans in an article from Deseret News, “As participation in youth sports increases, so do injuries including concussions, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The costs of purchasing equipment and uniforms, team fees and travel can be prohibitive for many families. And for elite athletes, the pressures to keep winning or earn a college scholarship can cause crippling anxiety.”

Although these opinions are understandable, sports have been proven, repeatedly, to actually benefit mental and physical health. A study done by Angela Lumpkin and Judy Favor in 2008-2009 called “Comparing the Academic Performance of High School Athletes and Non Athletes in Kansas” showed “50.4% of participants (in sports) had no unexcused absences, 50.7% never skipped a class, 30.6% had a GPA of 3.0 or above, and 29.8% achieved in the highest quartile on a composite math and reading assessment. Percentages for non-participants (in sports) on these same measures were 36.2%, 42.3%, 10.8%, and 14.2% respectively.” This shows the major positive effects that sports have on students. 

Overall, sports are a huge factor in the measure of success as students, the physical health and physical health habits of even young children, and the motivation of students to not only succeed in high school but to pursue a college degree. Students should continue to participate in high school sports. Although the COVID-19 pandemic presents setbacks in the sports world, there is no denying the fact that sports are beneficial for any student willing to play.