Sports affect mental health

Tristan Allen, Editor-in-Chief

The start of the school year also signals the start of football season. It can also mean more stress for students initially as they are accustomed to a school-less summer schedule.

Sports like football can add on to that stress, especially for older students who are taking on more of a leadership role within their teams.

Evan Foster, senior quarterback, felt nervous before he started in the season opener against Lawrence High School.

Foster says that he feels pressure to succeed, but he “work[s] hard” to ensure that he does in order to cope with that pressure.

After games, Foster feels relieved if he won. If he loses, he feels tired and disappointed about the loss.

Another way sports can add stress to athletes, specifically high school athletes, is the concern about injuries, which can impact, sometimes even end, their future playing careers.

Foster is not worried about being injured, however.

“If it happens, it happens,” Foster said on the matter.

There is no question, however, that injuries, especially those from playing football, can impact mental health. A study from 2017 looked at 202 deceased football players, and found that 87 percent of the players had developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a disease causes a buildup of tau proteins, which can cause memory loss and impaired judgement, among other mental health issues.

The majority of the players studied played in the NFL, with some Canadian, college and high school players. The study looked at players from every position.

Among the 14 high school players studied, only three players, or 21 percent of players, had developed CTE. In college, however, 48 of the 53 players studied, nearly 91 percent, had developed CTE, which suggests that higher levels of play have increased risk of CTE.

Ann McKee, director of Boston University’s CTE center, led the study. She said there is a “tremendous selection bias” with the study because the samples were donated by families who thought that their loved ones showed signs of having CTE.

Other studies have found that CTE is primarily found in people who are repeatedly hit in the head.

As Foster said before, he is not concerned about injury.

Another thing high school athletes can worry about is their future playing career. Not all athletes make it into college.

Foster however is not concerned with scholarships now, as he has received an offer from the Colorado School of Mines, located in Golden, near Denver.