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November 30, 2011

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Brain, brawn and balance

INTERNATIONAL families usually think grades always outweigh the benefits of sports, but I believe that a balance between the two is ideal. Being a swimmer, I understand the toll sports take on student athletes, which seem to become increasingly dominant as I tread through my four years of high school. I've been on the varsity swim team for all of these years, attending at least three practices a week, all of which last from 3pm to 4:30pm. I arrive at home around 5:15pm, when I attempt to begin my homework.

Seeing their children become top students is a goal for most parents. Grades are the only way (along with SATs) by which colleges and other schools can judge the academic potential of their students. Also, having a high GPA shows teachers and colleges how much effort the student ploughs into his or her schoolwork. However, grades aren't everything. Sure, they're important, but I believe by doing both athletics and academics, a superior equilibrium can be reached, guaranteeing a happier and more fulfilling school experience.

Sports can be extremely tiring, especially with four practices a week for most athletes. However, practice sessions can also be viewed as time to unwind, to let loose, as it provides space where students can escape evaluations and assignments. Even if it is just for one or two hours, exercise makes a huge difference. Whenever I dive into the pool, I see it as a time to think, to focus my energy on something that I enjoy. You can play video games or watch TV shows, but sports provide a great way to build your physique as well as a source of entertainment, exercise and mental peace.

However, this doesn't mean that sports hold more importance than studies. Academics should always be the first priority. Some students have their balance beam tipped more towards athletics, which might lead to a dip in their academic performance. Schools usually have academic probation policies for students who spend too much of their time on sports, allowing them to catch up academically before being able to participate in athletics. Coaches also love athletes who have good grades; it shows their willingness to commit and persevere. Also, know that school is long-term, sports aren't. Therefore, my goal is to encourage participation in athletics, but not at the cost of academics. Know when to participate, but also know when to quit.

Here are a few tips for those who find it difficult to balance sports and school:

? Make sure to pay attention in class (Stay awake!).

? Set both academic and athletic goals.

? Don't procrastinate!

? Ask when you need help.

? Do work whenever possible (bus rides, lunch time, etc.).

Ultimately, the student's choice depends on time and interest. Do you have enough time to do sports, along with academics? Do you enjoy athletics enough to commit time and energy to the sport of your choice? It's all up to you. At the end of the day, it's your mind; it's your body.

(Justin Wang is a senior student at SAS.)


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