Does playing sports add or reduce stress?

Sports are a common part of life as a high school or university student, but here’s the question: do sports relieve stress or add to it?


Many students have been involved in sports at some point during their school lives. Some say that the physical activity is a good break from studying and academic responsibilities. Others say that the commitment involved in being on a sports team makes their schedules more overwhelming.


“More than anything I think that being involved in extracurriculars helps you to catch a break and release some energy,” said Mallory Glaves, a Laurier Brantford student who grew up playing competitive soccer.


But Glaves has also faced the disadvantages of being involved in sports. She had the opportunity to play for the campus’ soccer team, and for her this caused an increase in stress. She eventually decided that the best decision for her was to discontinue her involvement with the team.


“As a commuting student, the stress of getting places, getting my work done prior to practices and games and getting enough sleep for the next day weighed on my mind,” recalled Glaves. “No matter how much I wanted to be on the team, the thought of getting behind in school ultimately stressed me out.”


But it isn’t just Glaves who feels the pressure of trying to balance sports and school at the same time. Many student athletes feel that sports are becoming more of a job in themselves, rather than being a fun and carefree stress reliever.


“It’s stressful to have to spend hours in practice knowing that I have studying and assignments that I still need to do,” said a first year Laurier Brantford athlete, “and the expectations of the sport are also pretty stressful in and of themselves.”


According to many students, when sports are taken to a competitive level, they become a whole new stressful responsibility. The pressure to stay committed, attend all practices and games, and consistently perform to the best of one’s abilities becomes almost equivalent to the pressure schoolwork puts on.


“It really seems like we have to prioritize either school or the sport,” the first year said. “Maybe some people are able to balance both perfectly, but for me it seems like I’m being torn between the two and I have to choose one or the other.”


Opinions are different for Erin Braun, a tenth grade student from Grand River Collegiate Institute in Kitchener. Out with an injury in her thigh for a month now, her stress has built up because without access to sports, there is no escape from the demands of school and social life.

“I would rather deal with the stress of balancing sports and school than the stress of not having sports at all,” Braun said. “Sports are a big part of my life and not having them after school every day makes me feel like I don’t know what to do with myself.”


When not playing sports competitively, Golden Hawk Mitch Hardy believes that finding at least one time a week to add sports to his schedule helps to reduce stress.


“Playing golf once a week relieves stress and tension brought on by school and expectations. It’s a relaxing and enjoyable method to get away from the chaos,” he said.


Students are encouraged to be aware of what reduces and adds to their individual stress and what the right athletic and academic balance for them is.

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