Abuse Plagues Sports

By Elena Hubert

Glory. Competition. Strength. Sports are viewed as beneficial activities for students by colleges and families. A student athlete who balances both schoolwork and practices is seen as an ideal candidate for colleges. However, the path to success for athletes is not as easy as it seems, as painstaking practices and coaches that push too hard can bring athletes to a point of both mental and physical illness.

According to a study by the NCAA, 30% of student athletes described themselves as depressed and 50% of student athletes described themselves as having anxiety. Coaches often push their players to the limit to have them play their hardest, but they do not think about the internal effects of this on the athlete. Rigorous practices can bring athletes to their mental breaking point as they push themselves to perform well.

Conditioning is a common practice used by coaches to push athletes to improve their overall physique and endurance. Coaches will force them to participate in painstakingly difficult workouts. However, when athletes are forced to do difficult workouts, their overall well-being is at stake.

During the volleyball season, my team was required to run a mile in under eight minutes, no matter the weather. I experienced so much pain during this that a single breath would result in excruciating pain. I would keep questioning myself, is the price of this pain worth the athletic glory and achievement?

Injuries and physical therapy are a common addition to the lives of student athletes. In August, a viral video showed a Denver high school cheerleader being pushed down into a split as she cried out in agony. Her coach pushed her down into the split so forcefully that it tore a ligament and a muscle. Success in sports should not require physical abuse and agony, no matter the situation.

Coaches can also push their athletes using verbal abuse to get them to succeed. Yelling and putting down players is used as a common practice to discipline them. Players can see themselves as unsuccessful and become depressed despite assumed benefits. They can also develop anxiety over how they will play.

Schools need to take greater measures to prevent this abuse. There should be protocols in place to observe practices for signs of abuse and by encouraging students to come forward about their experiences. Schools should not tolerate abusive coaching, no matter the circumstance.

Serious physical injuries and diagnosed mental illnesses should not be the first time to notice this abuse. The pressure from coaches is not always beneficial and can have serious effects. Student athletes can sacrifice both their mental and physical health in order to reap the rewards of athletic achievement.