Is playing sports worth the risk of injury?

April 11, 2015

Q: With all the controversy surrounding concussions, knee injuries and other sports-related injuries, what are your thoughts on whether playing high school sports is even worth the trouble for young people today? Should they risk getting injured for a couple years on a team? I ask this question because sports usually goes hand-in-hand with weight training and working out to prepare for each season.

A: There once was a time when I doubted the value of playing sports and felt that if I could do it all over I might not have participated. After all, I never made any money, didn't go pro and there were no scholarships or free education. But recently I've had a complete change of heart and now clearly see how my time on the field impacted my life in almost every aspect of who I am today.

Muscle memory

Playing sports forced me to exercise and develop my body, building strength, speed and quality muscle that remained part of my life long after I hung up the cleats. That gave me an advantage by building my self-confidence and teaching me to stay in shape. It also provided the foundation that makes it easy to do exercises and work out. Even if I step away for a while, my body never really forgets and reacts quickly once I start a workout routine again.


In high school we worked all year with the goal of getting bigger, faster and stronger. Everything we did in the weight room and what we ate when we were at home were small parts of a plan designed to help us reach our ultimate destination. During this time, I learned that personal improvement was a full-time job, and those who only worked part time were quickly left behind on the sidelines.


Sports exposed me to some of the most incredible role models that were available to help motivate me to want to accomplish things both on and off the field. The lessons they taught were never forgotten, and every time things get hard, I remember coaches like Bruce Reynolds, Jack Holloway and Howdy Duncan telling me never to stop, and to go full speed after whatever it is I want to accomplish.

Fitness basics

Lifting weights, running, eating healthy and working out were all prerequisites to playing high school football, and they were so ingrained in my self-conscious mind that they could never be erased. So going to the gym became as natural as putting on a pair of shoes, and it became a lifelong habit that I enjoy to this very day.

Pain tolerance

There was always a certain degree of pain associated with running, lifting and playing a game, but after awhile I began to learn to like the feeling of challenging the body and the mental high experienced when the day was over and the work was done. I can still hear my coaches saying 'one more rep.' Every time I don't feel like going to the gym or doing an extra five minutes of cardio, it helps me suck it up and get it done. No matter how much it hurts, it never kills me and only helps me break new barriers, so eventually I learned to push through the pain to get the feeling of accomplishment when the work was done.


It's wasn't until many years later that I realized the values my coaches instilled in my team became part of who I am today, and everything I learned about hard work, dedication and the burning desire to be successful was lit on the football field so many years ago. This eventually developed into a flame that transferred to every part of my life, from my workouts in the gym to how I perform at my job.

Today, the closest some kids will ever get to experiencing the physical and mental workouts many of us had as kids on the sports fields will be sitting in their rooms working the joystick of a video game. I hope they will someday understand the opportunities that playing sports can provide and the possible negative consequences of sitting around doing nothing. For me, training for and playing sports was worth every minute, and the opportunities I received because of the things I learned on the field were worth their weight in gold.

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