The student news site of Great Bend High School

Panther Tales

The student news site of Great Bend High School

Panther Tales

The student news site of Great Bend High School

Panther Tales

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How Sports Impact Students


 It isn’t an overstatement to say that high school sports can change the trajectory of a student’s life. Whether by presenting them opportunities for college, or simply offering them connections in the space they otherwise wouldn’t have. Joining a school sports team is a good thing for most teenagers. They offer a hobby for students to put their time outside of studies into, as well as monthly or even weekly chances to form relationship and leadership skills in a somewhat professional environment. 

“I’ve been involved in sports since second grade, first-second grade,” Matt Westerhaus, the Activities Director of Great Bend High School, said, “Playing, obviously in youth, high school, college. I then had an opportunity to coach… It’s impacted me tremendously. It’s allowed me to interact with a bunch of great students.”

“Sports have affected me in a positive way.” Paige Thexton, a member of the Girl’s Basketball, Softball, and Volleyball team at Great Bend High School. Continuing, “It keeps me busy, pretty much all the time, and has taught me how to work hard and how to manage my time, and has made me my best friends in life.”

But just how effective are school sports in the goal of improving student’s lives? Well, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, participation in high school sports and similar activities has led to a marked increase in student’s health, a more healthy sense of self-confidence when it comes to creating and maintaining relationships with others whilst developing a student’s capacity for empathy, it can also help students along the path of self-discovery, as well as setting a strong foundation for lifelong athletic habits that will continue to keep the kids healthy throughout adulthood. All to say, some pretty obvious benefits. It doesn’t take a brain capable of comprehending infinity to understand just how important these kinds of things are to establish for the younger generation. 

Westerhaus, said, “It gives them an opportunity to be a part of something while they’re attending school, and allows students who may not be participating in that sport to support other students.” He continued. “It provides a sense of pride in the school and the community.”

But, and this is a big but, there are significant downsides–or rather side-effects–to joining a high school sports team. According to the publication Thriveworks, becoming a student-athlete places you in a group more likely to need treatment for substance abuse, eating disorders, and anxiety disorders when compared to other students. Not to mention, the obvious health risks that come with doing this kind of strenuous activity constantly. Even people just watching sports can often be caught in the cross-fire, evident by Kansas’ own Linda Gregory who passed after getting knocked over in a collision with one of Northwest High’s students, sending her spiraling to the ground before she hit her head on concrete. 

Paige Thexton said, “If they’re in the wrong kind of environment, it can certainly affect their (the athletes) health.”

Mrs. Thexton, a counselor at Great Bend High School, said, “There can be a lot of stress and pressure associated with sports, to perform, plus it’s very time consuming and sometimes it leads to higher stress levels… Sports are not for everyone… Just because you’re athletic, doesn’t mean that you know, you have to play.” 

From concussions to broken bones, sports are a dangerous form of entertainment despite the positives that come with joining a high school sports team. Just think about the sports films or books you might have read or watched recently and try to recall how many of them had a student die as a pivotal plot device. It’s a common trope, both because it gets the most amount of emotion out of the audience, and because it has a tangible basis in reality. 

Rachel Thexton continued, “The good side definitely outweighs the negatives of sports, I think, just being involved in things and finding like a group that you connect with whether it be sports or clubs is very important, to high school kids and really anybody, finding that group that you belong with.”

“Anytime you’re involved with an activity, whether that be athletic or in the performing arts world, I think when you’re performing for someone there’s stress involved, and one of the benefits of participating in those activities is learning to cope with that stress and how to manage that stress.” Westerhaus commented.

However, fact always beats fiction, and while sports are certainly dangerous, they’re still a good stepping stone for a student on their path to becoming a functional adult. Giving kids and teens alike a taste of independence as well as what it feels to be a part of something greater than themselves, building a sense of community and opening doors that otherwise would have stayed locked and barred to under-valued students. 

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