By Scottie O'Bryan and Spencer Schultz
Jamesville-DeWitt High School is a school largely recognized for their elite sport programs, producing multiple Division I, Division II, and Division III athletes each year. However, the way J-DHS students get to that level is different: some athletes devote all their time and skill to a single sport, while others decide to participate in a wide array of athletics.
J-DHS students debate whether athletes benefit from playing multiple sports. Some students believe that playing one sport proves to be more beneficial in the long run, but others feel playing multiple sports is better.(Full disclosure, I, Spencer Schultz, find it more helpful to play one sport while I, Scottie O’Bryan, believe playing three sports is more beneficial).
Many single sport athletes think that playing multiple sports prevents the athlete from being completely focused on their favorite sport. “I’d rather be really good at only one sport, than just being mediocre at two sports,” says sophomore swimmer Marissia Potamianos. Although Potamianos only participates on the swim team, she believes that playing one sport is tough at times. "I find myself getting bored at swim practices and it can get very repetitive doing the same activity over and over," says Potamianos. Still, Potamianos prefers playing one sport over playing three. "Although it is hard, boring, and repetitive, you just have to keep trying because in the end the outcome will result in something great," says Potamianos.
Freshman Luke Smith believes that the increased practice time of playing one sport helps the athlete to become more "specialized," although he is a triple-sport athlete himself. Junior Dan McGann, who swims for J-DHS and a travel team, believes the benefits of doing a single sport are shown when it comes time for college. Although McGann does not plan on swimming in college, he will use swimming to boost his applications. “Playing one sport looks good because it shows committment, and shows you have the mentality to do a sport year round,” says McGann. McGann also swims for the Syracuse Chargers year round, outside of school, because it keeps him in shape for when the school season comes around.
Like McGann, senior Kevin Potocki swims on a team outside of school, as well as in school. However, Potocki does it for a reason other than staying in shape; “swimming all year round outside of school gives you a sense of being on a team and you get to know your teammates really well,” says Potocki.
Potamianos and freshman volleyball player Abby Baumgartner both believe that athletes shouldn't be pressured into playing multiple sports. "If it's the sport you love and that is the only sport you want to play then you should feel alright just playing that sport," says Baumgartner.
Many single sport athletes find it easier to play one sport, because it gives the athletes more time for school; however other single sport athletes argue that playing one sport still has its challenges. “I think most one sport athletes play their sport year round, even after the school season has ended. So we play sports just as long as anyone who plays three,” says Potamianos. “I play year-round so I’m getting the same benefits of playing multiple sports,” says freshman Ryan Drotar, who only plays lacrosse.
On the other hand, some J-D athletes decide to spread their dedication to multiple sports, something that is becoming more prevalent among J-DHS students. Smith, who plays football, basketball, and baseball, finds that each sport can help him be successful in the other sports he plays. “Playing basketball definitely makes me quicker in the other sports I play,” says Smith.
Freshman Ben Fleet, a football, basketball, and lacrosse player, agrees, saying multi-sport players are better overall athletes. “It keeps you in shape every season so you’re always prepared for conditioning. Some of the sports' techniques intertwine with each other, such as lacrosse and basketball defenses that have similar formations,” says Fleet. Senior Ryan Durkin, who plays hockey and lacrosse, does believe that those who play many sports are better overall athletes. However, he enjoys multiple sports for a different reason: "I've always liked to compete, so it's is an oppurtunity for me to be competitive in not just one sport, but two," says Durkin.
Playing so many sports typically results into very busy schedules, according to junior Melissa Murphy, who plays volleyball, basketball, and lacrosse. Murphy finds the scheduling a challenge, saying it "leaves her no time." Other students agree, such as freshman Griffin Cook. “On occasion I have to miss a sport to play lacrosse, which can be a problem,” says freshman Griffin Cook. Although Cook plays football, basketball, and lacrosse, lacrosse always comes as a priority over other sports. Cook thinks focusing on his best sport, lacrosse, will improve his game to help him recieve college scholaships.
Like Cook, Durkin, who is playing lacrosse at Bucknell University next fall, also feel sports have helped when it comes to college. "Hockey and lacrosse translate well with each other and aspects of each game help me in certain areas of the other sport," says Durkin.
Although most J-DHS athletes cannot agree whether playing multiple sports or single sports is better, there is a clear winner among coaches. J-DHS physical education teacher Jeff Ike, a coach of both the Varsity Boys Lacrosse and Varsity Football teams at J-DHS and Varsity Boys Basketball at Manlius Pebble Hill prefers athletes that play multiple sports. However, Coach Ike doesn’t necessarily believe that athletes are bad if they play one sport. “If you play more than one sport, there are bits and pieces in all of the sports that make you a more well-rounded athlete with different defensive techniques and different strategies from each of the games,” says Coach Ike. “If you have all of those techniques in your arsenal, it is going to make you a better athlete,” says Coach Ike. Coach Hayley Nies of J-D Varsity Girls Soccer and JV Girls Lacrosse agrees with Coach Ike, saying in her experience, multi-sport athletes take what they learn in one sport and apply those skills to another sport.
Based on her athletic expertise, J-D trainer Amy Jennings believes that multi-sport athletes receive more benefits from a health standpoint. “Playing one sport all year round can lead to chronic injuries and overuse of the same muscles and body parts,” says Ms. Jennings. Playing many sports throughout the year leads to the use of a variety of muscles and “limits the chances of chronic injuries,” according to Ms. Jennings.
Though the J-DHS coaches and trainer feel that playing multiple sports is more beneficial, the student body remains mixed on the matter. “It really depends on the athlete. Some people are better off playing one sport while others prefer to play two or more,” says Murphy. “I think if you want to play in college there is a time where you need to pick one sport, but until then people should feel free to do what they want,” says Smith.