Changes in high school athletics

by Brady Hess–

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Blacksburg, Va., Dec. 3—Have a Ball: Football, basketball and baseball are a few of the many sports that student-athletes across the country have an opportunity to participate in during their high school glory days. Photo: Brady Hess

Southwest Virginia is just one of the many places this time of year where student-athletes are beginning to make the shift from football to basketball. The shift is not an uncommon one to make and is one that athletes embrace with pride. The shift has its challenges but overall the multisport athletes will tell you it is worth it.

“Some advantages are playing with my good friends. The quick turn is nice because I’m already in shape,” said Blacksburg High School junior Drew Babcock. “The transition can also be a little difficult.”

The transition from a physical game like football to the finesse game of basketball is a difficult one. The conditioning for both sports is different, presenting a challenge that Blacksburg junior Cole Epperley said is the most difficult in the transition.

“Basketball is muscle memory and football does a lot of wearing and tearing on the body,” said Richlands basketball assistant Patrick Wade. “Most times when we get players they have some nagging injuries and are a bit overweight because they have been lifting weights and aren’t as mobile.”

Based on the success of your football program, basketball season can become delayed. This can set you back on the hardwood in regards to team chemistry and planning for a big district game. However, while to some, it appears that there are many drawbacks to participating in a handful of sports, the good can outweigh the bad.

In recent years, the debate over which is more beneficial, being a one-sport athlete or a multisport athlete has became popular. In a March 2017 USA Today article, the NCAA collected information from 21,233 student-athletes on this topic. The results show that 71 percent of Division I football players were multisport athletes.

In 2015, pictures hit the web in regards to Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer is more likely to recruit athletes who played numerous sports than to seek after a one-sport athlete.

Athletes can be met with disapproval by coaches who frown upon athletes who seek to be apart of multiple teams.

“Not all coaches are this way but there are some out there that do not want athletes to play other sports and to only focus on theirs,” said Christiansburg Director of Parks and Recreation, Brad Epperley. “This, unfortunately, is a total disrespect to the student-athlete.”

Recently, the Virginia High School League changed the way high school sports are handled. Instead of having “seasonal” practice where there were a couple weeks off between each sport, coaches, players and administrators are now met with the option for “year-round practice.” The elder Epperley disapproves of this, saying that this can limit the number of sports that athletes can commit themselves to.

With implementations of year-round practice and play, the landscape of high school athletics has changed completely. With this change, expect there to be a lot of conversation on whether or not playing numerous sports is a good or bad in the near future.

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