Graphics by George Hwang
Due to the ongoing construction on the tennis court, the tennis team has started practicing in the mornings. Early practices have been thought to be potentially harmful for students. For instance, some parents claim that morning practices might affect student schoolwork, sleeping patterns and defeat the purpose of the late start schedule. However, these arguments are refuted by the many benefits that early practices offer to athletes.
First off, waking up at the same time every day helps athletes become accustomed to the pattern so that it does not feel as if they are waking up early after a certain amount of time. In fact, according to research by Shawn D. Youngstedt of the American College of Sports Medicine, exercising in the morning actually promotes better sleep because the athlete’s body falls into a natural cycle where the body uses energy at a constant rate and gets ready to sleep when the cycle ends. This means that the morning practices do not defeat the purpose of the later school start time. On the contrary, they actually complement it.
Furthermore, morning practices do not affect grades or performance at school. According to another study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine, exercising in the morning also gives athletes a significant energy boost, as well as a focused mind for the rest of the day. This allows them to perform consistently well on tests and quizzes. The study also showed that people who exercise regularly in the morning have higher grades and perform better on schoolwork in general. The effects of this include better comprehension, alertness and an ability to perform better than average on tests and quizzes. Athletes on both the water polo and tennis teams have testified to this. Senior Mari Haraguchi, a varsity tennis player, and sophomores Rachel Lew and Antoinette Nguyen, junior varsity tennis players, argue that morning practices have helped them get a kick-start on the day, and varsity water polo players believe that they have been able to concentrate much better in their classes throughout the day.
Although parents and students may think that morning practices can have a negative toll on the students, many of these athletes have argued against that. These athletes have noticed a difference in their alertness during the rest of the day but have seen no interference with their performance in school and tests. Thus, morning practices have a positive influence on these students and should be here to stay.
by Jean Wang
With the latest construction on the tennis courts, the girls’ tennis teams were forced to practice in the mornings at Cubberley Community Center. With girls’ tennis joining the few other sports, such as water polo, that hold morning practices, it is necessary to consider the numerous detriments these practices pose on players. Not only are morning practices an additional hassle, but they are also a negative influence on athletes’ academic performances.
Morning practices defeat the purpose of the new late start bell schedule by forcing athletes to wake up even earlier in order to attend practice. According to a study conducted on the impact of changing school start times by the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota, suburban students in Minnesota were more alert during class, slept more and had fewer behavioral problems when school started later. However, with morning practices requiring athletes to arrive at practice several hours before school starts, the practices are effectively acting as an earlier school start time, and bring plenty of negative effects.
Furthermore, according to research by Mary Carskadon of Brown University, a shift occurs in our biological clocks during adolescence in which the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that causes sleepiness, is delayed to about 10:30 p.m. In other words, it is natural for teenagers to go to sleep late and wake up late. However, this natural cycle is disrupted by morning practices, as students are still inclined to fall asleep at the same time but must wake up earlier, thus resulting in fewer hours of sleep. Over time, students accumulate more sleep debt and will consequently find their performances in school suffering. Even worse, long term sleep deprivation can result in future health problems, including links to obesity and a greater susceptibility to illness.
In addition to the disruption of sleep, early morning sports practices hurt athletes’ concentration throughout the day by tiring them out with intense training early in the morning. Students will naturally feel physically exhausted after a morning’s practice, which will also translate to mental exhaustion throughout the rest of the day. Athletes will be too tired from their practice to focus during school hours and will find their grades suffering accordingly.
Ultimately, sports should avoid holding early morning practices, because they hurt not only the student athletes’ health, but also their academic performance. Instead, coaches should consider other alternatives, such as afternoon or weekend practices, in order to help the well-being of student athletes.