A day for rest?
Once the Rhode Island Interscholastic League playoffs began a few weeks back, more and more games were added onto the Sunday schedule.
Although games were not generally scheduled on Sunday during the regular season, sometimes games would be moved there if a makeup was necessary. Games have also been played on Sunday during the playoffs in order to keep kids from having to play into late June.
During my time covering Massachusetts sports and Maine sports, Sundays were always a guaranteed day off at the high school level, and I feel that is the way it should be.
Let me make the case for those who believe Sunday games should be available, because there are some out there that do.
Obviously if a rainy spring like this last one creates a logjam in the schedule and teams and the league have absolutely no way of making it work, then I guess I can see it. Now, about 10 minutes later, I still am having trouble finding any other reason, and still am not sold on using Sundays as a makeup day.
Here’s my case against Sundays.
High school student-athletes have some of the busiest lives and schedules out there. Having covered thousands of high schoolers on the field in the past, I can say firsthand that the everyday grind of school, sports, homework, repeat is about as draining as any full-time job you can think of.
Although kids love playing the sports that they participate in, it is still a commitment that requires time spent working hard and focusing on a task at hand. Participating in athletics is a blast for most kids, but there are times where anyone is simply more in the mood to just kick back, relax, and clear their head.
Most teams compete on Saturday, and many will hit the field on the Friday before. To remove a student-athlete’s Friday evening, along with their Saturday and Sunday afternoon, that takes away from their free time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for kids to not work hard, push themselves and use every day to be productive, especially at such a pivotal period in their lives. I just feel like everyone deserves time to unwind and to take away some of the stress that we encounter on a daily basis. I think a certain level of stress and urgency is healthy for any human, but there does come a point where it becomes unhealthy.
Not only do I feel like stress affects a person’s mental health, but it also affects performance at the workplace and in the classroom.
Forcing kids to compete on Sundays limits the amount of time for them to complete their homework on the weekends, which will only further lead to anxiety. I can’t speak for everyone, but there have been plenty of times I have seen kids struggle to maintain their grades while also playing/practicing 5-6 days a week.
My last point in terms of the students is the part-time jobs they usually have on the side as well. As we all know, college tuitions are outrageous nowadays. Having graduated in 2015, I could write a daily column whining about how millennials are getting gouged like never before.
Before I rant and spiral into an entirely new topic, let me refocus on this one.
Many student-athletes use Sundays for working part time and saving money. Sundays are time and a half and are the one guaranteed day off for kids in many other states. By making kids play on Sunday, it takes away their opportunity to earn money, and it may also force kids to have that awkward conversation with their boss breaking the news that they won’t be available.
I worked at a supermarket in high school like many high schoolers, and nothing would piss off my supervisor more than when I would need a Sunday, the busiest day of the week in that business, off.
Making these students compete on Sundays will only create more stress, take away their free time, and will prevent them from comfortably completing their studies and earning money. That’s not even mentioning the fact that most upperclassmen are trying to get accepted into a college, and also have to face the bittersweet reality that their final years in high school will be the last opportunity they have to be with their friends before they enter the real world. They should get to relish their high school days for everything … the classroom, the field, and those weekends where they get to hang with their best friends.
Sunday games can also be tough for the coaches too.
Many high school coaches are family men and have full-time jobs during the week. Between family commitments, maintaining their homes, as well as just simply needing time to relax, coaches should also be granted one weekend day off from their teams.
I remember many schools in Maine wanted to free up Sundays in order to prevent the season being extended a week or two. I spoke with numerous coaches, and they almost unanimously agreed that it was not healthy, physically or mentally, for kids and coaches to be forced to commit seven days a week.
Overall, teenage kids need to learn responsibility and need to appreciate the idea of pushing their limits and reaching their full potential. Coaches also have to be prepared to make the sacrifice of running a high school team.
However, we’re all only human. High school student-athletes should be encouraged to enjoy their time in the classroom, on the field and at home with as reasonable of an amount of stress as possible.