Finding a Balance

By Kevin Hagenlocher, age 14


How do you balance sports and academics?


Everyday, I try to balance sports and academics. Most nights I'm successful; other nights I'm not. I play or train for sports all year round. I couldn't live without them. Many can relate. Without sports I would be extremely bored. Usually when I get home at night, I don't really feel like doing homework. I feel I've already done enough stuff at school. But what helps me is knowing that academics and how well I do in them is the foundation for the rest of my life. Chances are that I'm not going to go pro. But I don't play sports just to go pro. I play sports to have fun, to learn how to fight my way through physical challenges, and to apply other lessons I learn through sports to my life.

A couple years ago, I moved to St. Louis to go to a private school. Coming from a public school (where I would have only 20 minutes of homework on a hard night) was a big step for me. I quickly observed that everybody approached school as if a "C" was like failing. They all cared about their grades and how well they did. I soon learned to pick up on that skill. High school, though, is different from middle school. In middle school, sports were worked into the school day. In high school, sports occupy 2 hours of your day after school. By the time I get home from school and eat dinner, it's around 7:15. Early in the year after getting home, I was wiped, but I still had homework to do. That's when I turned to the Bible.

The story that I could relate to was Nehemiah rebuilding the wall that had been knocked down. He worked a very long time. Even though there were many distractions, he was persistent and didn't let them get in the way. Because of this persistence, he was able to finish (Neh. 4:1-2). I used to listen to this story as a little kid a lot. But last year, I took it in a different way. I thought that the wall could represent your goal. It could represent school work or something that you were trying to achieve. Sanballat, one of the three men who tried to distract Nehemiah, could represent a distraction, a thought disguised as your own thought telling you that you don't want to, can't, or shouldn't achieve your goal. I realized that I hadn't been doing a very good job at building my wall. I needed to reverse the distracting thought that sports cause tiredness. Once I thought about this, I felt a lot better. If Nehemiah had the determination to rebuild the wall around a city, certainly I could focus and take the time to do my school work. And it helped.

There are so many Bible stories that can be looked at in different ways to help us balance sports and academics. I'm sure if you turn to the Bible as a resource for help, you'll find your own answer. My wall is still in the process of being built. I know that it will be strong enough to hold for the rest of my life. Sports are a way to teach us lessons to succeed in life. These lessons should be a part of our day. But remember, it's the academics that count and will most likely help you reach a job you love that also makes money. It is a right idea to do what is best for you, and both sports and academics are right activities. So, God will give you a way to balance them, just as I found a way to balance them by turning to the story of Nehemiah. The story of Nehemiah worked for me; it can work for you.