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New Student Survey Highlights Linkage Between Student Sports and Stress

A new survey of students at Seattle’s Northwest School demonstrates an unexpected connection between student sports and stress. Long thought to be a stress-reliever, school sports can, in some cases, actually add to student stress. 

Participating in sports, inside and outside of school, is a healthy way to let go of any stress, school related or not. It gives everyone an opportunity to be themselves and let loose. The Help Guide states that “Exercise provides the same endorphins that make you feel better.” Noticing this quote, we can infer that, no matter how much exercise one gets, there is still something that is causing stress. School is a highly competitive place amongst teens, academically speaking. {I want to add something about how there has to be a competition or opposing team to make it competitive, we (teens) tend to think we can always do better than out peers}

Having that extra push to do better in school can be beneficial to some, but it’s more intimidating for the majority of high schoolers. 

At The Northwest School, sports are an option for every student year round. More than 97% of the school’s students partake in a sport either for school, or outside of school. Some sports are 7-days a week commitments; others 1-2 days. Among students who play a school sport, 69% say they feel more stressed about completing schoolwork while playing said sport. 

Part of the challenge for student athletes is taking responsibility for their school work, deadlines, and asking for extensions if needed. Some teachers may be more flexible and will push the due date for athletes, while other teachers won’t. Every teacher has their reasoning behind the flexibility or lack thereof for certain deadlines, but it’s difficult for the students who feel more stressed about their workload when playing a sport if they don’t have an adaptable teacher. 

In the survey sent out to all students at Northwest, one anonymous student said: “I have less time to do homework AND my sport itself is also very stressful for me.” The statement above is true for 97% of the school’s student body. But for the other 3%, they use their sport as a way to calm their anxiety/stress from school. They use the time spent being active to relieve the stress of school and take a breather. 

Personally, while I love my sport and my team, participating in a school sport causes me a lot of stress and I’ve felt eager to be done with the sport so I could manage my school work. I had practice 3 days a week, and typically 2 games per week. Being in that team made me feel like I have a school family, and I never had a bad time, but it was hard to fully engage in the sport when I was always thinking about what school work I had, when things were due, and how I was going to do it all. It caused a toll on my mental health and concentration during practices and games. 

Sports are a part of everyone’s lives, we play them, watch them, coach them, or cheer for them. School is also a huge part of everyone’s lives, whether you’re still in school or you’ve already gone through it. Combine the two and each person has to figure out how to manage them.


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