The Toxic World of High School Sports

Exploring the life of students athletes and the toxic atmosphere they live in


Rhett Cunningham

Liberty student Parker Sethaler gets pelted with balls from different sports even though he attempts to dodge them.

Megan Geisler, Reporter

The life of a student athlete is never easy. They practice multiple hours a day on top of going to school and, for some, also going to work. Yet many still choose to do it. But as the years go by, that number becomes fewer and fewer. According to a poll from “The Aspen Project,” roughly 70% of athletes quit in their teens or even before. The question is, why? In order to answer this, we took a deep dive into the different sports at Liberty High School to find out the real reason people seem to be drifting away from sports.

Up first the girls basketball team.

The girls basketball team has suffered recently as they can’t find a sufficient number of players to have more than one or two teams. This raised suspicions as both the boys team and many other sports have no trouble attracting athletes. 

“I tried out for the basketball team my freshman year because I loved basketball,” an anonymous source mentioned.

“Back then we only had one team because no one wanted to play. I didn’t realize it at first but the environment is just so toxic… The pressure of performing and being physically active along with the drama that comes with a large group of high school girls. It’s just too much.”

Our source was not the only person feeling this way too. They mentioned a number of other people who felt the exact same way but didn’t want to be mentioned.

It’s not just the girls basketball team though. Sports as a whole in high school are filled with stress and pressure that for most people is just too much.

“That’s the thing about high school sports, it makes you hate the sport that you love so much,” senior Jenni Knapp remarked. 

If you haven’t noticed yet, there is one main trend going on here. People quit high school sports due to an unhealthy amount of stress and toxicity. Yes, I said it. High school sports are some of the most toxic levels of sports out there. Many athletes have reported experiencing a toxic relationship with at least one or more of their teammates. It’s sad but it’s true. 

Yet not all students quit. Many continue on despite the hardships. Why?

For a senior athlete at Auburn University Dani Gregory, it’s her love for her sport that kept her going. She was a Liberty graduate and now competes in track and field at the NCAA Division I level in the hammer throw. She went through it all. She experienced the stress and pressure, but she pushed through. And with that, she leaves us with some great advice on how you can push through too.

  1. Don’t give up.
  2. Give yourself a “Why.” Why am I doing this? Fight for that every day.
  3. Don’t let a bad coach ruin the sport you love.
  4. It is okay to have a life outside of athletics.
  5. Your performance does not define who you are.
  6. Always give it your 110% because you will never know when it will be your last practice, game, etc.
  7. HAVE FUN. Sports are about having fun. Take it seriously but still have fun.
  8. You’re so much more than one game or match.