High school sports cause stress

Sophie Parks, Staffer

The stadium erupts in synchronized cheers as the player scores the winning touchdown. The energy radiates across the field from the fans to the team and the smell of victory is in the air. Without a doubt, high school sports bring unanimous energy and excitement to both athletes and spectators alike. However, there are still deep rooted challenges that often go unaddressed. 

In a recent study hosted by Northeastern University, it was found that “95 percent of male and 85 percent of female athletes report higher stress compared to 52 percent of non-athlete students.” This overwhelming statistic prompts the question: are high school sports too stressful? 

With high amounts of academic pressure (specifically filtered through the LO school environment), an additional performance pressure from sports can sometimes be the tipping point for many students. 

Senior Ji Reichle had both positive and negative comments regarding her experience playing Lake Oswego varsity volleyball. In response to whether high school sports can create an unnecessary stressful environment, Reichle said that the intense time commitment of “two more hours after school everyday for months can make it hard to find balance in life.” However, she doesn’t believe that “the competition or expectation levels are abnormal” compared to other schools. Reichle decided to stop playing volleyball this 2021-2022 season because “the sport became too mentally draining and turned the entire sport negative for [her].” She continued, stating that,“there comes a point when you have to ask yourself if you are still having fun. Once I realized this, it didn’t become something worth my time to continue playing the mental game I struggled with.” 

While Reichle no longer plays for Lake Oswego, she wants to emphasize that her coaches and teammates continued to be supportive throughout the process. She said that volleyball allowed her to “build skills in communication and leadership, develop friendships, and offered opportunities that overall made [her] a better player and person.”

Senior football player, Jack Layne, had a different perspective on pressure in sports. “The community is so strong in LO that they support us win or lose,” said Layne. “With that said, I think there’s some degree of pressure, but that’s what makes Friday nights so crazy and fun.” Layne said that even though football attracts the highest amounts of fans, it only gives him more “excitement and adrenaline that makes us play better.” Layne’s only negative experience was his last loss against Jesuit: “I felt like I had let such a big community down that expected so much of us. However, that’s natural, and ultimately the support this year was incredible.”

When sports become a burden rather than a source of enjoyment, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of your own happiness. While athletics can be crucial to maintaining students’ development, acting as an additional outlet and a resource for scholarships, it’s important to not lose your initial goals along the way and continue to maintain focus on your mental health.