The Pressures of Sports on the Mind

And How We Should Respond to It

There are many children that play sports, whether it be rough contact sports like football and hockey or more relaxed like golf and swimming. To the people watching, it just seems like good, competitive fun. To the players, however, it's a bit more than that. At least it is from my personal experience. Playing soccer for over 10 years makes one a veteran with that sport. Anyways, the pressure that a sport can put on a single person's mind is actually quite large.

Of course, there's the bigger pressures like staying in shape, keeping skills up-to-date, and the complete dedication that is required to go to every single practice, game, and mid-summer kick around. Then there's the smaller, more easily forgotten things, like the time that all of that takes up or the feeling of losing an important game. 

Sports are fun. They're meant to be fun, but there's also a problem when it becomes more than competitive and starts to take a toll on a person's mind. For example, whenever it's a really competitive game,  there's a good chance of it crossing the line between playing hard and playing dirty. It's easy to let emotions overcome and throw an elbow here or an unneeded slide-tackle there. Plus, overworking is a very real concern. Going to school, then a grueling two hour practice, and going home only to do homework, eat dinner, and go to bed to do it all again tomorrow. Where's the job that all teenagers want? Or the healthy social life?

The physical struggles are one thing, but the mental ones can be even more of a struggle. The feeling of guilt after losing an important game or the exhaustion of a single week when the only thing you feel like doing is face planting into bed and staying there for a while. And then for a person with anxiety, team sports are made even more tough because of the social interaction. Yes, it is cool to be on a team with a ton of friends, but it sucks when you're a quiet person and the whole team goes out and forgets to invite you.

The anxiety before each game is also a killer. Before every game, it's thoughts of everything going wrong along with the symptoms of an aching stomach and awful nausea. Peer pressure's also a killer. The complaints from friends to keep doing it and, even worse, a parent trying to force the continuation of an unwanted sport, because then thoughts switch to how you should continue and quitting is for losers when, actually, it's the exact opposite. 

Quitting is the best thing to do. If a sport is detrimental to mental and physical health, quitting is the best thing. It's hard to stop doing something that an entire life has been based on, but that's just a sign. If you are mentally reliant on a sport, that's not good. It's going to keep taking a toll until you do something. The pressures of a sport and the result that can have on a person's mind is no joke. They're very real and it needs to be recognized that sometimes people just shouldn't play sports.

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