Elyn: I believe the increasing competitiveness of sports has made them too stressful for teens. Playing on a team isn’t about having fun anymore. Now it’s about being the best, making the most competitive team, and even getting an athletic scholarship to college. According to studies, baseball players have a heart rate of 170 when they are at bat, and about 20 percent of soccer players experience high levels of stress, especially after games their team lost. And the pressure isn’t just in traditional team sports. As a dancer, I go to dance conventions, where it’s all about learning the combination the fastest and performing it better than anyone else. If you mess up, you feel horrible. Sometimes I feel like I dance, dance, dance, but I’m still not as good as everyone else. I love dance, but everyone involved in sports should start focusing on having fun again.
—Elyn Franson, a high school junior in Washington State