Almost Extinct: Three Sport Athletes A Rarity In Modern High School Athletics

Almost Extinct: Three Sport Athletes A Rarity In Modern High School Athletics

This is part one of a multipart series on multi-sport athletes in high school.

Multi-Sport Athletes are becoming a rarity, and to play three sports, is almost a scarcity. In the 2022-2023 school year, 38% of Pennsylvania high schoolers played a sport of some kind. There are some mixed opinions about being a multi-sport athlete. Some believe that it’s beneficial, and others believe that it takes too much of a toll on a teenager. Here at Hempfield Area, there is a low number of students who play three sports as compared to 20 years ago. Those students believe that the positives outweigh the negatives in playing multiple sports.

One of the biggest positives on multi-sport athletes is college recruiting. Playing multiple sports can keep an athlete in shape, and scouts like to see athletes getting involved with multiple athletic events. College recruits see three-sport athletes as a major positive. 80% of current Division 1 athletes played multiple sports in high school. Some of the most famous athletes of all time played multiple sports while they were in high school. Notable football stars like Deon Sanders and Bo Jackson both participated and excelled in football, baseball, with Deion also playing  basketball, and Bo running track . Star NBA player Allen Iverson was an amazing football player as well. In high school, Iverson won AP player of the year for both football and basketball. Our school’s athletic director Brandon Rapp believes that playing multiple sports plays a pivotal role in college recruiting. 

Softball stars Peyton Heisler (left), Lauren Howard (left middle), and Maggie Howard (right), along with Grace Semow (right middle), at the Akron Open Meet

“There are a lot of college coaches, regardless of the sport, that come in and ask ‘what else do they do?’ Part of that is because they want to know how well rounded that a student-athlete is and their leadership. Colleges like to know that they’re doing something else for certain parts of the year just from the injury perspective, so that they’re not overusing the same muscles and joints.” 

College scouts love to see young athletes get involved in multiple sports, and ideally, three sports. Sports like track and field can drastically improve a players athleticism, and can help improve their skills in their other sports.

Multiple sport athletes are proven to display improved mental and physical health, and are shown to increase athletic performance. Although, the risk of injury is what steers kids away from playing more than one sport. Not getting the proper amount of rest after a long season can take a serious toll on a young athlete’s body, which can cause soreness and complications going into the next season. Almost all three sports athletes play one sport in each season, meaning that they virtually have no time off between each sport. Once one finishes, it’s off to the next. The balance of academics and sports is also one of the toughest complications. At Hempfield Area, students spend almost 7 hours learning, taking tests, and being focused on their school work. After that, most sports have practice in the afternoon, and games in the evening throughout the week. On top of that, athletes are expected to perform at their best, while also being expected to perform in the classroom. It’s a lot to ask of teenagers, but according to head basketball coach Bill Swan, it may just come down to cooperation.

“I think the hardest part is the off-season. Programs demand so much time in the summer especially. When coaches and athletes work together, it makes the 3 sport athlete much more doable !”



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