Making the cut

Anna Tanko, Opinion Writer

Lately this year, I have taken a lot more notice of how sports affect students mentally now that I am reflecting on my own four years of constantly being in sports. I started to notice how flyers in cheer will get their lunch tray and only eat their side of apples. I started to notice how wrestlers spend a long time in the bathroom in the days before their meets. I started to notice how much football players eat more, drink more gimmicky protein shakes than water and spend several hours in the weight room. I’ve taken even more notice because “bikini season” is coming up. Girls during after school practice brag about how they only had an iced coffee today but say it in a way where they do not sound proud of themselves for seeing how long they can go. Sports are supposed to keep your body healthy and maintain a good balance of activity, and, for most student athletes, they do. Activities are great. I personally get extremely down when I am in a season where I do not have at least two things going on at a time. I enjoy spending time with all my friends in these activities but where do you find the right balance? Lately, I have noticed there is an extreme culture revolving around sports. By high school, if you are not taking private lessons or in a club sport since you could walk, you have no chance of qualifying for anything above average. It starts to take a toll on your body. Track runners start running more on injuries and soccer and basketball players tear their ACLs from pushing themselves too hard. However, in some activities it turns superficial. As someone who’s done competitive dance for years and high school cheer, I notice how becoming more tan, skinny and covered in makeup is more important than your technique. Football is more about how much protein you can eat and constantly bulking and cutting. Wrestling is more about how good you are at calorie counting than being able to get a pin. Track is more about how long you can go in shin splints and pulled muscles. When you cannot work on your technique, it becomes more about looking the part to your coach. As a fellow student told me recently “my activity is my job.” There are ways to fix this. There are ways you can fall back in love with your sport. When my relationship with my sports is at its worst, I have found the only thing that helps me dig myself out of a hole is remembering the science behind my body. There are things you have to remember. Your body is genetic and why you cannot change the body you were given. Starving yourself slows your metabolism and bloating is not fat. To the girls, that bump on your stomach is your reproductive organs, not fat. To the boys, relaxed muscle is not fat. This is a temporary feeling. Bodies change. You cannot take your body with you in the end so stop spending all your thoughts on it.