The impact of year round sports

John Law, Sports Writer

One sport ends and another one begins. In recent years, this has become a regular routine for most high school athletes. With the constant shifting of IHSAA rules, student-athletes are having increasingly less free time and are forced to become masters of time management.


On top of that, most of these students also participate on travel sports teams, usually based around Indianapolis and have to make long car rides to play in tournaments over the weekend. It has undoubtedly become more difficult to maintain participation in multiple sports over the last few years.


Because Indiana is such a huge high-school-basketball state, most travel sports don’t start until after the basketball state championships. While it wasn’t uncommon for basketball players to go straight from the court to the diamond in the past, making that transition has lost its appeal as of late. Athletes are essentially being forced to focus on one sport all year round which can become very conflicting for them. Often times, sports will overlap and athletes are forced to make a decision on which one they want to prioritize, but this practice has proven to have its consequences. Most coaches are very expectant that their players attend almost every workout, and when athletes miss them because of another sport, it usually hurts their chance at a starting spot.


Nearly every South sport holds workouts all throughout the summer no matter when they are actually in season. On top of that, the majority of soccer, baseball and basketball players play for travel teams in tournaments that go on for as long as five days. Occasionally, athletes will go to one practice in the morning for a school sport then drive an hour or more to play multiple games for their travel team and not  get home until dusk.


Just recently, junior Anneke Furr had to leave New York in the middle of a Sounds of South trip in order to make it to a basketball tournament all the way back in Indiana. “After school ball ends for me, I go straight into travel,” Furr said. “Having that on top of Sounds of South and trying to be social can just be really overwhelming sometimes.”  


Travel ball on top of offseason school ball workouts on top of academics is beginning to become just too much for high school students. It’s hard to think that there was a time when teenagers could just relax and be kids. However, according to former South baseball player and now Panther coach Phil Kluesner, it wasn’t always this way.


“Back when I went to South, I would play Babe Ruth ball over the summer, have some school workouts in the fall and then play for South in the spring…nothing really overlapped though” Kluesner said.


All of this pressure on student-athletes to perform well in both school and sports is too much stress for any teenager. A select few are able to stay persistent and maintain the hard work, but most athletes end up falling behind in one area or the other. Not to mention, having to juggle all these activities can lead to severe sleep deprivation that one may never recover from until a week off or a three-day weekend.


Junior Zach Bellini said that he stays up “almost every night past midnight doing homework and packing on calories to gain weight and muscle.” Somehow Bellini still maintains a ridiculous 4.5+ GPA, but his body has taken its toll as he is frequently in the training room getting checked out.


While all these activities help greatly in preparing teens for the real world, it seems as if it’s time for the emphasis on sports to be scaled back a little bit so teenagers can endure less stress and have the ability to balance their athletic and academic endeavors equally.