Student-athletes beginning to play fewer sports

In the past, the quintessential jock played several sports, whether it was the combination of football in the fall, wrestling in the winter and soccer in the spring or some other configuration.

However, the present paradigm for the ideal amount of sports the student-athlete should play has shifted.

Many schools, including Granite Bay High School, have seen substantial decreases in the amount of triple sport athletes over the years, as more and more people have reduced their load to one or two sports.

The reasoning behind this change may be simple.

“As you get further up the food chain,” said James Spargo, a senior who plays varsity soccer and lacrosse at GBHS, “more people find their niche and so you’re less likely to find people doing varying things because they’ve found (one) thing they’re good at and passionate about.”

Angela Pozzi, a Physical Education teacher at GBHS and a cross country coach, also believes that concentrating on one sport leads to not participating in others.

“There’s some kids that just love baseball,” Pozzi said, “and there’s some young ladies that just love cheering.  You find a passion in life, and if it’s just one sport, that’s good.”

However, the decision to not play multiple sports may also be due to the lack of time that one has when playing on a sports team.

“There are less and less multiple sport athletes as you get older,” said Aleah Treiterer, a varsity soccer player at GBHS, “because competitive sports are more demanding.  The more competitive you get in a sport, the less time you have for any other activities, including other sports.”

The decision may also not even be up to the athletes themselves.

“I think (the issue) has become cultural,” Pozzi said, “because some parents and coaches want their athletes to pick and stick with (a certain) sport.”

While the cause of the decision to not play multiple sports may differ from athlete to athlete, many people agree that there are benefits to playing a variety of sports.

“One of the major benefits of playing multiple sports is the increase in athleticism,” said Adrian Lada, a GBHS junior,” since sports test different parts of a person.”

Playing one sport can also improve an athlete’s performance for another sport.

“I’ve played soccer and lacrosse simultaneously for the past eight years,” Spargo said, “and at the very least, they kind of keep me in shape for one another.”

Besides the physical benefits that come with playing multiple sports, there are also psychological benefits that accompany playing various sports.

“I think that one of the benefits of playing multiple sports,” Treiterer said, “is that it prevents you from getting burnt out of one specific sport.”

There are also mental and disciplinary benefits to playing a multitude of sports.

“Playing many sports,” Spargo said, “also keeps you focused and on task. If I wasn’t playing sports, I feel like I would just get off-task and procrastinate.”

Ultimately though, the differences between the benefits of playing multiple sports and concentrating on just one sport are trivial. What is most important are the values and outcomes that an athlete comes away with.

“When athletes play sports, they (develop) better habits,” Pozzi said. “I think sports really help them organize their lives.  It’s a positive life skill.”