In High School, I played two sports. This was a big diminishment to my athletic career as before High School, I played sports all-year around: basketball, football, and baseball. My football career didn’t last past Sophomore year. In part that was my decision, two sports took its toll on my personal life, let alone three. Another reason was that I was third-string in Football, but a first-stringer in basketball and baseball. In that regard, the decision was made for me.
High School and Collegiate athletes struggle with countless challenges on and off the field. Maintaining a good grade point average is difficult with the rigors and demands of practices. Student athletics also carry significant pressure. In my own high school athletic career, far from a Division I or II University-level, I felt a crushing pressure. There is no escaping the pressure from peers of High School or Collegiate Athletics because you see your peers every day in the classroom or on your way to it.
The pressure of performance leads many student-athletes to turn to performance enhancing substances. These substances can range from basic protein supplements to other supplements that seek to act at the level of cellular physiology. At the furthest end of the spectrum of performance enhancing supplements are steroids or other hormones.
Many student-athletes turn to unhealthy versions of performance-enhancing supplements such as steroids that go far beyond the acceptable norms and rules of the game. Why can’t we enjoy sports a little bit more in this country without having to turn to steroids?
We know the power of sports. It brings forth extraordinary life lessons for countless individuals across the world. Students learn the lessons of hard-work, perseverance, performance under pressure, competitiveness, and follow-through. Sports also bring about some of the greatest moments in an individual’s life.
In my own life, I still reflect on the great memories of athletic achievement on the Baseball Diamond and Basketball Court. The greatest pressures in life can certainly mold diamonds or dust. My own high school athletic career felt that way. Alongside some of the greatest moments in my life, victory over a rival, notoriety among peers, were some of my worst memories such as the time that I missed the game-winner. It was a three-pointer in basketball. The play was designed for me at the last minute. I had the right distance in my shot, but my balance was a little off. Hit the front end of the rim.
Fortunately, I never circumed to steroids though I knew of MANY student-athletics who did. But I always had the lingering question: how did the pressure impact those who did not have the experience as a student-athlete that shaped them into a diamond, but instead, disintegrated them into dust?
For many families a college scholarship can be an incredible financial relief for both the students and the parents. Many working families are on the cusp of receiving grant-based, Federal financial aid, yet they cannot afford the cost of University tuition alone. The promise of a University scholarship, even if it is only half, or even if it is to a smaller Division II or III school, can alter the financial course of a household for a decade. It might mean that the student’s Mother only works part-time herself. It might mean that Mother and Father can save for an early retirement instead of shoulder the student’s University tuition.
The combined pressure for a student can seem insurmountable. It is truly a shame in our society that we let some of our athletes, those that are not molded into diamonds, to circum to the pressure through illegal performance enhancing substance abuse or the use of steroids. A simple fix to this is to allow High School student athletes to receive the profits that their teams accrue for the school during the athletic events.
Some schools reap hundreds of thousands of dollars from well-attended High School sporting events. Some schools also generate significant revenue from the sale of athletic-wear. Why not let student-athletics earn money for all of their hard-work?
High schools will still need to share profits with student-athletes as some proceeds may need to go to maintenance and upkeep at the park. However, even a few thousand dollars for a student-athletic could mean the beginnings of a college savings fund that could be contributed to in the off-season with a student-athlete’s part-time job.
The alternative, unfortunately for many student-athletes, is turning to steroids to obtain that scholarship. This is unfortunate because anybody who is involved in high school sports knows that steroids and other extreme performance enhancing substances actually do work and are burdensome to test for in many levels of high-school competition. Let’s help student-athletes ease the psychological burden of athletics and flourish as diamonds.