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HomeNewsCampusSports as sanctuary: Students find mental respite in athletics

Sports as sanctuary: Students find mental respite in athletics

With all the demands and pressures of academic life, the connection between sports and mental health can often be overlooked.

Yet, for some students, sports participation is more than just physical exercise; it is a sanctuary for relaxation and mental rejuvenation.

For some of these students, engaging in sports is not merely about scoring goals or winning games but also about finding peace amid academic pressures.

James Stephen, a sport management student at Durham College, describes sports as “sense of escape” because of the mental relief it provides.

A hockey player, Stephen says when he steps on the ice, his “worries go away, and… can only think about the game.”

This is how many students feel, especially those who get their energy rush from sports.

Durham Lords baseball player Eric Smith attested to the same idea. He said, “It’s the best feeling to just swing a bat and let my worries free for three hours?”

The benefits of sports on mental health are well-acknowledged, with entities like Toronto Athletic Camps advocating for the stress-relieving effects of athletic involvement.

Students are in constant search of enjoyable activities that divert their attention from academic stressors.

According to Cadence King, a part-time employee at Mulligans, an indoor golf simulator in Whitby, the facility often becomes a nightly retreat for students and young people looking to unwind.

She says small groups of people often visit the place to have “fun with friends” and to “forget about things,” such as the daily stresses of life.

She believes the relaxed ambiance allows visitors to unwind and truly be themselves while engaging in golf, contributing to the consistently positive atmosphere at Mulligans.

However, it’s important to recognize potential challenges. A 2019 study in the “Journal of Youth and Adolescence” highlighted a 16 per cent increase in the risk of anxiety and depression associated with sports.

Despite these findings, the overall benefits of sports, including enhanced mood, clearer thinking, and improved physical health, are significant for many students like Stephen.

Students on the school campus, like Stephen and Smith, agreed on one common theme: playing sports not only gives them a break from school stress but also allows them to feel like a part of the community.

“Being part of my hockey team has been a lifesaver for me,” said Stephen. “It’s not just about playing hockey. It’s about the friendships I’ve formed and the support I’ve found within my team.”