The Student News Site of Manheim Township High School

The Township Times

The Student News Site of Manheim Township High School

The Township Times

The Township Times

The Student News Site of Manheim Township High School

The Township Times

Opinion: School Athletics Put Too Much Pressure On Students

Amalia Tejada

Competition is a part of playing a sport, but when the competitiveness and motivation to play is fueled by fear, the environment becomes toxic. When rationalized, fear of failure can be a positive motivator. It can symbolize one’s focus and dedication to achieving a successful future. But when this fear of failure becomes consuming, it can destroy one’s perspective on who they feel they need to be and what they feel they need to accomplish. 

Fear of failure often derives from a fear of being excluded. In the case of many high school students, this fear pertains to being excluded from top colleges or one’s aspirations for the future. It motivates students to build up their extracurriculars, play a sport and be “good enough” to be accepted into their dream schools. This fear ignites a competitiveness in the students to be the best at what they do so they are not excluded from opportunities in the future. 

Although the need to belong and to be accepted applies to many aspects of life, the tether that athletics often have on students’ lives is a key component to this issue. In a social setting, participation in sports is often used as a crutch to build character and connections. Athletics are not only used to maintain an identity built to support social connectivity and a sense of belonging but for countless athletes; they are used to build confidence in one’s identity to themself. Many feel that without their sport, they would lose their sense of self and are intimidated by the idea of having to rediscover themselves. Sports can provide an athlete with goals, values and structure that define who they are. 

“I have been swimming competitively since I was 6, and it truly has made me who I am today. Without this sport, I would lose many friendships and important life skills I have learned throughout these past eight years,” said freshman Emmeleine Truong.

Some athletes identify with their sport so strongly that they feel pressure to prioritize it over all else in fear of not being able to compete if they do not give their sport the majority of their time.  Given the level of competitiveness here at MT, this feeling is understandable. Students typically must be among the best at their sport to compete at our high school level and continue to experience the benefits of playing sports that motivated them to play in the first place. 

It takes a lot of time and energy to be a competitive athlete while simultaneously keeping up with school. The majority of people I know who play sports often feel burnt out, overwhelmed and have a hard time balancing schoolwork and their busy athletic schedule.

 “A lot of the time, I feel pressured to prioritize my sport over my schoolwork,” said sophomore volleyball player Addison Souders.

Throughout all of these examples, one thing is highlighted — the overlying pressure and stress that affects an athlete when they play a sport points towards a fear of failure. What many athletes and people in general fail to realize is: failure is necessary for growth. 

Failure is often a positive thing, especially as a teenager, because it allows for redirection and the development of knowledge. Fear of failure is often not enough of a motive to truly succeed. Allowing oneself to fail will allow them more opportunities to succeed.

“I’ve learned that nothing will ever come easy, and that you’re always going to fail before you succeed. When I first joined rugby, it was so difficult because it was a different environment and culture than what I was used to, but it turned out that it was exactly what I needed to be happy and succeed. I have met so many friends and learned so many lessons from that sport,” said senior rugby player Ella Bortz. “So even though I may have failed a couple of times, I have learned so much and now, when I find myself struggling, I am able to find joy and smile through my obstacles.” 

When approaching something with passion and interest, determination can relieve stress of the task because all failure can be appreciated. I find that the fear of failure has cut off many from exploring new opportunities or doing things simply for enjoyment. When someone allows themselves to fail, it allows them to find out more about what they are and aren’t passionate about. This, in turn, will allow them to discover a more authentic identity instead of trying to force themselves into someone they are not.

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About the Contributor
Amalia Tejada
Amalia Tejada, Staff writer
Amalia is a freshman at MT and is a staff writer for The Township Times. This is her first year on the staff.

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