The Struggles and Perks of Being a Teenage Athlete

By Emma Dowell, Reporter

High school, what a time to experience many different opportunities and honestly find who you are and who you want to become. Many teenagers involve themselves in sports. Now their motives for playing their sport could range for a number of reasons. For example, some students play to keep their mind off of other things, their parents are pushing them to play, or for the most obvious reason which is… they do it for fun. However, many people who are not in the shoes of high school athletes fail to realize the day to day struggles of being a student athlete. On the other hand, it can come with some perks as well. 


The biggest issue that student athletes deal with is keeping up with their mental health. They are pushed to perform their best and anything under that is unacceptable. The athletes are almost held up to an impossible standard that in the end could result in something catastrophic to their physical, mental, and social health. According to, “The Atlantic: Why Are So Many Teen Athletes Struggling With Depression?” “Nearly half of American youths struggle with a mental illness before turning 18, while 12 percent have experienced a bout of depression. But even though playing sports on a regular basis can boost physical and mental health, for some serious high-school athletes—many who train year-round and might need an athletic scholarship to afford college tuition—sports can be a key contributor to depression and anxiety.” As a result, student athletes are held to a certain standard that sometimes puts them in stressful situations. Also, many athletes don’t realize that they are in fact a teenager. During your teenage years you’re supposed to make mistakes and have fun. Sometimes, when sports become too serious it causes the athlete to put up certain standards that are not possible to achieve putting themselves at extreme anxiety and emotional stress. 


On the other hand, being a student athlete in high school could also have some benefits. The exercise involved in most sports improves teens health, strength, emotional balance, and life years. According to, “Evolve: The Benefits of Sports for Teens” Exercise releases cortisol, which reduces stress; and endorphins, our bodies’ natural feel-good chemicals. Sports participation is linked to reduced heart disease and diabetes, among other health benefits.” Many people do not realize that involving yourself in physical activities at a young age could play a huge role in prolonging your life in the future. Our bodies build up certain chemicals and muscles that will help us grow and mature. Also,  According to, “Evolve: The Benefits of Sports for Teens” Participation in high school sports is linked to better grades and professional success in the workforce. If you’re an athlete, you tend to have a more positive attitude toward school, improved academic performance, and higher aspirations for college.” Many student athletes are very driven towards achieving the best academic performance they can produce. This is due to the numerous grade checks that sports teams have to ensure all of their players are putting their grades and school work first. Overall, being a student athlete definitely improves your ability to stay more focused and organized. 


As an athlete I always pushed myself. As athletes we are told that we are our worst critic. That statement is very true! I feel like during the times I struggled with my performance was when I would get down on myself and then a chain reaction would occur. Keeping a positive attitude is always one of my hard suits. Along with that, I dealt with a lot of stress and anxiety before each game. I would think of things that would sike me out and drive me to get in my head. As a result, I would get in my head so much that I would not perform my best. On the other hand, with time and maturity I began to become more relaxed and my performance began to improve. This definitely proved the statement of  “you are your worst critic.” On a more positive note, being a student athlete made me more passionate about anything I do whether that’s sports, school, etc. I became more outspoken which allowed me to develop traits of a leader. Sports allowed my physical and mental health to improve over the years. Overall, I am proud to be a student athlete even if it comes with some challenges. They only make me stronger. 


Being a student athlete is definitely not easy by any standards. However, it allows you to become more driven in things you do and allows you to be who you truly are. High school is supposed to be fun, so do whatever makes you happy. If playing sports does make you happy, then keep going even when it gets hard. That will prepare you for life.