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Energy drink hoax makes the kick not worth the rush

By Daniel Kats
Published: February 2010

One of the most seemingly effective ways to gain a boost of energy long enough to last through an athletic competition is by consuming energy drinks and other substances rich in artificial energizers. These drinks and substances, however, often do more to harm an athlete’s performance than to help them avoid fatigue.

While many drinks like 5-Hour Energy and substances such as caffeinated gum claim to maintain a high level of energy without a crash for an extended amount of time, the truth is that most substances cannot sustain the energy level athletes need to compete in the Dual County League.

“A wrestling match is six minutes long, but if you’re doing an energy drink, it probably won’t sustain you for six minutes, Varsity Wrestling Coach Alan Rotatori said. “It might give you the [energy for the] first minute and a half, and then you’ll just start to crash. By the third period, you’re junk.

Energy drinks seem to be the solution to an athlete’s exhaustion.

In reality, consuming energy drinks is not the way for athletes to uphold a high level of performance.

“Everybody thinks there’s a magic pill [for energy], Rotatori said. “There’s no magic pill.

Some alleged energy-enhancers can even harm an athlete and will end up hurting performance.

One of the main ingredients of all energizing substances is caffeine, which many South students consume in bulk throughout the day.

“Caffeine can easily dehydrate you, and it is only temporary energy, captain and senior  of the Boys’ Varsity Swimming and Diving team Sam Forman said.

Unpredictable crashes seem to be the most common reason for athletes to avoid artificial energizing drinks.

“You will never be able to judge when you are going to crash when it has run its course, senior and varsity soccer player Brendan Shanny said.

This can be problematic for athletes who need to maintain a high level of energy for an extended amount of time, especially in sports that require constant movement.

While the constant motion required for most sports may suggest that “energy-filled substances should not be a mainstream method for energy-enhancement, some South athletes find them useful for short bursts of energy.

“If you are doing something short and explosive like shot put, then yes [an athlete may find these drinks beneficial], captain and senior pole-vaulter and shot-putter Ross McDonald said.

According to Varsity Volleyball Coach and certified personal trainer Todd Elwell, the likes of Red Bull, Monster, and 5-Hour Energy do not affect an athlete’s performance in sports in which fast-twitch muscle fibers are mainly used.

Some players feel that they have enough energy and feel that they do not need a boost from energy drinks. Many athletes feel that boosts from energy drinks are unnecessary.

“I am already hyped up enough for every game that I have, senior and varsity football player Chris Lewis said. “Before every game my blood is [already] flowing.

According to Shanny, energy drinks do not give other athletes an unfair advantage, but actually show a sign of weakness.

“[Athletes] can gain their extra energy [through] mental preparation. If you have to resort to using an energy drink, then you are already off your game, he said.

Various South athletes are not fazed by the façade of a seemingly wonderful product.

“I guess it could be an advantage [at the beginning], but in the long run it only screws you up, Mika Braginsky, Girls’ Varsity Tennis team captain and senior, said.

But there are ways that an athlete can get a boost.

“The real energy drinks are the ones where people are putting together the fruits and they’re juicing stuff, Elwell said.

The rules regarding the use of energy-enhancing substances are not covered in the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Handbook. While these substances may keep the occasional student-athlete from dozing off at halftime, they will not provide them with the proper sustenance they ultimately need.

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