“I can’t, I have training.” If you have friends involved in sports, this sentence is probably not foreign to you. I, too, am guilty of using it many times. For years, defending the position of sports in my life has been a big challenge for me, and I am sure the same goes for many who lead the same lifestyle. As students, we are often pressured to focus on academics alone and to care solely about our grades. For some, it can be quite tough to gain support in pursuing things outside of academics, like sports. People challenging my commitment to sports has often led me to question its real value – is it really worth all the sacrifice it entails? Just like many other things in life, it is a game of trade-offs. In my experience, sports has provided me with benefits that outweigh its downsides.
Sports exercises my time management skills. Inevitably, committing to a sport takes time away from other priorities. Many may consider this a disadvantage, but I believe otherwise. Through the years, I have found myself to be more productive when my schedule is full. Being conscious of our limited time pushes us to give our all and make the most of every moment, whether we are studying in school, training in the gym, spending time with loved ones, or taking time to rest. This makes us athletes more productive and efficient, allowing us to balance sports with other activities successfully.
Sports trains mental toughness. In order to stay physically fit, we need to undergo heavy physical exertion despite soreness and fatigue. Workouts can be painful, tiring, and literally “breath-taking”. It becomes very tempting to quit. In sports, however, we need to fight a mental battle each time we train, because we need to complete the workout. We could either push through the pain and consequently increase our capacity, or give up and remain stagnant. This process of fighting the urge to give up does more than training our physical bodies. It trains our minds to push on despite the pain so we can get stronger. This mental battle that goes on in every workout has taught me to keep going in the face of challenges in order to grow and achieve long-term improvement.
Sports maintains good health. Being young, it is easy to forget that our bodies’ capacity is limited. It is easy to take our youth for granted. We have strong immune systems, we recover from illness quickly, and we have high energy levels. We sometimes overlook the fact that in the future, as professionals and parents, we will have bigger responsibilities. These will demand much more from our bodies, which will naturally deteriorate with age. Yes, sports does take time and effort. It is tiring to have to get out of bed early to go to the gym, or to spend an hour or two to train. However, it is an investment that will benefit us in the long run with stronger physical abilities, slower progression of ailments, and lower medical bills. These benefits will allow us to have fewer limitations in our daily endeavours.
Sports has developed in me, among other things, three valuable disciplines: time management, mental resilience, and good health. Through these three facets, I have seen the value of sports, and how this value greatly outweighs the physical strain, the mental battle, the sacrifice. Yes, I lose time for my other priorities, but I have learnt to manage my time wisely and accomplish my tasks efficiently. Yes, I am challenged with the effort required in sports, but I have learnt to be tough mentally. Yes, I get tired from the exertion, but I have learnt to push harder (without injuring myself, of course) in order to maintain my health. These three disciplines have made me not only a better athlete, but a better person. So, the next time I say “I can’t, I have training”, do not feel bad for me. I know that the struggle is worth it.