Why We Do It
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Why We Do It

"Until you puke, faint or die, keep going" ... actually keep going no matter what.

Why We Do It

Deciding to become an athlete at 9 years old, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, nor did I know how far I'd get in the sport. I had no idea the toll it would take on my body, the physical pain and the emotional nightmares. I had no idea where I would be in 10 years, where I am now a division 1 athlete. I had no idea, and I'm glad I didn't because I may not have decided to choose this path.

Back when I was younger, going to practice meant sitting in a pool for 60 minutes, five days a week after school which didn't seem so bad. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the competition even if I wasn't the best. I enjoyed the accomplishments, and hard work and dedication were just a few of the skills I picked up along the way. As I moved from a middle schooler to a high schooler, I went from being a wimpy little athlete working out five hours a week to being a two sport, varsity athlete dedicating between 12 to 15 hours a week to practices. I learned then that being an athlete is much more difficult than I ever realized. It became harder to complete school work, I had little time to hang out with people other than my teammates, and I was constantly exhausted every second of the day. Now a collegiate athlete, I understand that there is no time for messing around. Now dedicating over 20 hours of my time per week to training I know that there is little room for error in my schedule between extra workouts, morning and afternoon practices, and lift a few days per week not to mention my course load.

I began to wonder, why do athletes put themselves through sheer torture and pain just for the sense of competition? Why do athletes exhaust their bodies to the point where we can't breathe or can't speak just to race someone next to me feeling the same thing? Why do we do it?

Being an athlete has taught me to push myself in everything that I do or want to accomplish. It has taught me the importance of hard work and desire. Athletes push themselves each day and compete harder even if the odds are against them. These athletes we look up to and admire are constantly focused on a single goal whether that goal is simply to improve or win a championship title. They strive to be the best and put everything on the line for their goals. They are more dedicated than people give them credit for and deserve all the recognition in the world. But for what purpose do we do these things? For fun? For the love of competition? Why do we do it?

Between the blisters, calluses, bruises and bleeding, athletes are put through deep physical pain. Being an athlete is not pretty, nor is it glamorous. Battling an injury possibly for the rest of your life is not what athletes strive for but it is sometimes a reality. Getting out of bed in the morning and feeling aches and pains through your muscles and bones as signs of fatigue and overuse is not what we strive for. Being unable to walk downstairs without pain is not how most people want to live. Mental pain is almost just as bad: the stress and anxiety are always there due to high expectations from coaches, parents or even the athletes themselves about their performance. Being a full-time athlete doesn't leave room for the important things in life like school work or getting enough rest at night. There will be times when your friends will be having fun while your sleeping or preparing for a practice or a game and there are going to be times that you could give up the athlete life for one night just to have a little fun. The endless thought of quitting are always going to arise and life would be much easier if you did. You put so much time, money, and effort into this sport, why quit now. Above everything else, the letdowns from competing have to be the one of the worst things an athlete can experience. Putting yourself through sheer torture to not be rewarded. Hurting your body to the point where fainting may be an option just to come in last, or lose by one-hundredth of a second. Constantly training for months or even years to be in pristine shape and then coming up short is an awful feeling. Looking up at that scoreboard and knowing that you failed is the most humiliating and disheartening feelings I have ever experiences. Why put yourself through that pain? Why do we do it?

Out of all these negative aspects of the sport, why would people want to continue? The thought of hurting yourself both emotionally and physically for competition, the possibility of not being recognized for your hard work and dedication, or even having to miss out on life experiences and memories. Why do we do it?

Through all these negative aspects about being an athlete, there are so many redeeming qualities. As athletes, we know that things are not always going to work out. There are going to be struggles, and ruts, and injuries along the way. There are going to be times where we want to quit or just don't have the motivation to push ourselves anymore. Being able to get through all of that though, is how you define an athlete from someone just going through the motions. The athlete will do anything in their power to make sure they are doing what they need for themselves and their team. Being an athlete makes you strong, and feel like you can do anything. At the end of the day though, when you see your name next to first place on a scoreboard, realize that your team beat your rival, or win a championship game or meet, there is no better feeling in the world. In that moment you feel invincible and all the pain you put yourself through doesn't hurt anymore because in that moment you made it. In that moment, you succeeded and there are no words to describe that feeling. That is why we are athletes. That is why we keep coming back to the sport we love. That is why we don't mind hurting ourselves each day.

That is why we do it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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