To the Max: Difficulties of being a multi-sport athlete in high school


Maximus McGrath, Sports Editor

This previously ran in our April 2022 print issue.

Multisport athletes are now appearing few and far between as the modern era of youth sports grows more all-consuming from a young age. 

Coaches and parents encourage athletes not to isolate themselves to a single sport, yet they demand controlling amounts of time and dedication to participate. Commitment is vital to engaging in athletics, but with the stiffening expectations of student-athletes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to balance all facets of life. 

Many kids grow up playing multiple sports which bestow many benefits such as creating friendships, developing athletic abilities in different contexts, and experiencing different types of competition to find what suits them. This does not change with age and leaves many athletes forced to detach themselves from a sport they may wish to continue. 

Many athletes compete with the goal of advancing through the tiers of the sport and surrounding themselves with a higher caliber of skill; this is not the case for every active person. Some play sports for exercise, improvement of mental health, or even purely for enjoyment. Regulating the beneficial exposure to athletics can easily deter many away from the positives that are created. 

Overuse and soft tissue injuries are more frequent with repetitive movements in a single sport. Expanding an athletic skill set is twofold: It creates a versatile set of skills that can diversify and separate an athlete from the pack while also strengthening muscles and tendons to prevent common injuries. 

Limiting the scope of desired experiences can be detrimental to future opportunities that may arise. A principle idea in the structure of our educational requirements is to ensure the interaction within each subject, regardless of the interest of the student. 

How can we require developing teens to be exposed to all subjects in educational settings with the justification that it creates a well-rounded mind and prepares for success in multiple ways, but restrict that same idea in an athletic situation? 

Guidance is required to navigate these confusing and overwhelming phases of development, but hovering over and manipulating each and every occurrence leaves no room for growing independence. There must be individuality among athletes to compete in their desired fixtures. Optimal performance happens when competitors genuinely want to play to become better, not when they are begrudgingly participating. 

Freedom and trust must be placed in athletes’ decision-making during competition, so the same must be put in place when stabilizing the constantly changing aspects of life. Parents, coaches, and other role models cannot asphyxiate the love and enjoyment out of sports for children before they have the opportunity to try new things.