Dedication is Important — In Moderation

Taylor Murray | The Chronicle

Dedication is Important — In Moderation

There may be such a thing as being too dedicated to your sport.

Mason is an incredibly competitive and high-achieving district. When most people talk about Mason compared to other schools, they refer to our academic prowess. However, just as equally impressive is our athletes’ dedication to their sports.

Sometimes, to a fault.

Dedication is a widely sought-after trait by most coaches, as it means that the athlete will give their complete all to the team no matter what they are going through, and they will never quit the sport without good reason. Although this is more of an idealized definition, many Mason students take it far too literally. 

I know students who work out two or three times a day, every day, with no breaks. They tell their friends that they are just “prepping for the season” or “staying in shape,” but they are doing more damage than good to their bodies. Working out too much without giving your body any rest can cause fatigue, a high resting heart rate, overuse injuries or even insomnia. Sports practices can be the same way — and I have first-hand experience.

My wrist started bothering me in July – the color guard has grueling, 8- to 12-hour band camp days in the summer, and we spend nearly all of our waking hours in the high school’s Large Commons with our color guard coach. I ignored the pain and decided that I was probably just sore because I couldn’t fathom missing any of the band camp days for an injury. I didn’t go to the doctor until October when I was told to rest it and use a brace. I ignored it again, slipping the brace under my uniform and performing at Super Regionals with the rest of the band. It was a huge competition, I couldn’t just not participate!

After we returned from the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, I told myself that now the season was over, my wrist would heal on its own. 

I was wrong.

I couldn’t play guitar, participate in orchestra, or even turn a door handle without pain anymore. I went back to the doctor and had to get an MRI, and they informed me that I would have to get surgery and drop out of the winter guard season if I wanted to participate in fall guard in my senior year. I can’t help but wonder if I would’ve been fine, had I just taken a good rest in October when they told me to. 

I have a friend who fractured his ankle after landing a jump badly in volleyball. He finally got out of his boot a couple of weeks ago and went back to practice as soon as he could, ended up pushing himself too hard, and aggravated his ankle again. Now he has to sit out of another two weeks of practice so that his injury can re-recover.

Athletes, in love with their sport as they are, refuse to accept defeat – even if it’s their body telling them to stop. They’ll push through any discomfort, promising themselves, their parents or their coaches that they will go to the doctor and get rest…once the season ends.

I can’t stress how important it is to let yourself take a break and get back up to full health. Speaking from experience, taking a few weeks off now to let your body catch up to you and work its healing magic is much more reasonable than pushing through an injury and ending up having to drop out, get surgery or set back your progress even further.