Athletes shouldn’t be pressured into playing or quitting sports

The Hustle With Russell

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One of the worst positions an athlete can be in is playing a sport they know they don’t like. All too often I hear high school athletes saying they’re only involved in a sport because their parents won’t let them quit or a coach keeps trying to get them to return to the team. This isn’t fair for student athletes.

Athletes shouldn’t be pressured into playing or quitting a sport. The decision whether to play or not is a decision they need to make for themselves. 

I played three seasons of football for SHS, and I won’t lie. I wasn’t very good at it. I always knew I wasn’t going to be a great player, and I didn’t have any plans of pursuing football in college. There were times where I didn’t have the motivation to keep playing, and I thought about quitting. Despite this, I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did. 

I never really felt a deep love or passion for the game, but I liked it, and I had fun. This was enough for me to keep playing. My parents didn’t feel the same, and after I tore my labrum in my right shoulder during my sophomore season, they really didn’t want me to continue with football. After undergoing surgery to repair my labrum, I missed out on all of my junior season of football, but I decided I’d come back for my senior year, though I ended up tearing my labrum for the second time.

I never got a scholarship or any awards out of football, but I did take away some friendships and life lessons. This justified the summer workouts and injuries to me. I made the decision to play despite what others wanted. The takeaways I got from football outweighed the sacrifices I had to make.

Like football, I played baseball for three years at SHS. I started playing real baseball in elementary school, and unlike football, I was good at it. I had solid numbers and potential behind me, and I had a true passion for baseball. However, even if the spring season hadn’t been cancelled due to COVID-19, I wouldn’t have played this year. 

I used to dream about playing in the MLB and making millions, but something changed during high school. I didn’t have that same passion that I used to have for baseball. It might be because my severely-damaged labrum left me with a practically useless throwing arm. It might be because the coaching staff drastically changed every year I played, and I couldn’t quite settle in with them. It could even be something completely different, but I can’t say for sure. It all simply led me to decide I wanted to be an athletic trainer or maybe keep the book for the team, but I wasn’t going to play. 

In the beginning my parents and eventually a lot of teammates and former coaches tried to talk me into playing. It worked at first. I went to a few offseason workouts and worked on my skills at home. In the end, I decided I wouldn’t let others talk me into being unhappy, and I’m content with my choice. 

Sports are never easy. Along with the physical aspect of the game, athletes have a lot of decisions to make in regards to how athletics affect their life off the field. Whether it’s time to hunker down and stick with it during the hard times, or it’s time to step away from something that’s required years of dedication, athletes have got to be the ones that make that decision. If an athlete decides to quit a sport and misses out on some opportunities, that’s on them, but they can’t let someone else talk them into being unhappy for the sake of a game.