The Challenges of the Early Bird Student Athlete


Joy Luo and Jacob Pollack

In wealthy suburban Millburn, many families structure their lives around their children’s sports. Parents sacrifice their personal time and children slave away endlessly at an activity most are likely to discontinue in college. People may tailgate wait for hours to get the best seats, though this ordeal is alien to professional teams. Even in Millburn Middle School, students must wake up even earlier than usual during the year to continue their sport. Especially in the winter and summer, early mornings are far more common than more healthy, later waking times. In our MMS community, you may be surprised by how many sports begin before the crack of dawn. I asked some students at MMS if they had to wake up before 5AM for any sport related reason. As a swimmer myself, I know how waking up for a swim meet is a constant in my life. Waking up at five is quite natural for me because I’ve had to do it for meets and practices. In the summer, one swimmer said how he has to wake up at 4:30 to go to practices. This isn’t just one practice, but is many weeks of practices during the winter and summer. For many of us, waking up early is a struggle, but the student said, “I’m fine with it. I love my sport, so I don’t mind waking up early.” Another sport in the winter that begins early in the morning is skating. One skater at MMS had to wake up at 3:30AM to participate in a skating competition. This is not unusual. She “really doesn’t care” because she just “likes her sport.” It seems that some are willing to sacrifice their morning to continue their sport. But not everyone is an early bird. A hockey player had a completely different idea on waking up early; “I feel so tired.” Of course after waking up, someone doesn’t really want to immediately go to exercise or to work. However, there are some benefits. Our hockey players said that because she wakes up early, “I can do other activities. I have more time to do other things.” No matter the sport, these kids are committed. I myself, will have to wake up at 4:30 in the morning during the summer every week to swim in a freezing cold pool. But I’m committed to my sport, so no matter what time my meets or practices begin, I will be there. This is many student’s ideology on their sports, but of course there are other opinions. Would you sacrifice your sleep to go to competitions?