Athletic Anecdote: In the end, it was all worth it

By Ben Seifer
Published: April 2009

Guts and Glory.

Sports are a funny thing. American culture is consumed by them. Much of the student body participates in athletics, but why? Why do hundreds of students stay long after school hours to lift weights, endure practice, or take a nice long bus ride to a poorly attended game in Western Massachusetts?

High school athletics seems like a strange concept: a relentless schedule, countless hours of work, and increased likelihood of suffering an injury. At the end of the day, what is the significance of running in circles or starting at one end of the field and trying to make it to the other? Why do people suffer through the blowouts that leave their self-confidence in shambles?

Everyone has their own reasons for participating in their respective sports, but many miss the big picture. Some see sports as dangerous, and having a high risk of bodily harm.

I will not argue that this aspect is an enticing one, but there is nothing cool about actually getting injured. I have been there, and I have seen my friends injured.

Anyone who has ever gone down during a game will say that whatever respect you may receive as you stand up and limp off the field is quickly replaced by pain and forgotten through a long healing process.

Every athlete wants individual success. Every athlete wants to have a direct impact on the outcome of an athletic competition by throwing the winning touchdown pass, scoring at the buzzer or hitting a walk-off homerun. The simple truth is that not everyone will experience these moments, so an athlete’s true motivation must come from somewhere else.

Unless you are a professional athlete, sports do not have any correlation with how popular you become or how many girlfriends or boyfriends you have. The Newton South Lions are no Permian Panthers.

South is home to some good-looking athletes, but we just do not put up the kind of numbers to receive that much attention. An athlete, no matter how talented will never walk into high school and have a girl throw herself, or at least, not in Newton.

The main reason any serious athlete practices or plays six days a week is simply to make use of his or her body. Athletics remind us that our bodies aren’t just for carting our books from class to class and that they shouldn’t waste away sitting at a desk.

For however many hours a week, sports allows a person to focus all their energy into one simple action. Everything, from football to track to golf, requires complete focus on one thing. This kind of focus is a rarity in the hectic life of a high school student.

An athlete’s work during chalk talks, weight-lifting and practice manifests itself into game day results, which are as clear as anything can ever be.

As the season progresses, you can feel yourself getting stronger and faster, which must be an obvious product of your own work.

People are attracted to sports, and athletes play sports for the same reason. In sports, everything is direct. There is always a winner and a loser. The person or the team that has prepared most diligently comes out on top: no ifs, ands or buts.

Jimmy Fallon sums this idea up perfectly in Fever Pitch: “You can’t fake it. You know, anything else in life you don’t have to be great in – business, music, art – I mean you can get lucky.

There are few places that are as confusing and mentally exhausting as high school, but there is nothing as simple or more satisfying than a sports field.

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