Wanted: multi-sport athletes

BHS has seen a rise in singular sport athletes and it is costing BHS their good reputation.


Weight room. The BHS weight room hosts athletes from all sports into an area in prep for upcoming seasons. “Weight training is vital for our athletes across the board in the off-season,” head coach Mark Gibson said.

Mark Gibson and Demon football go hand in hand. As the head coach for more than two decades, Gibson has coached his fair share of athletes. Over the years he and other coaches of all sports have noticed a change. Students are specializing their athletic abilities in only one sport. 

Sports are also slowly becoming 12 months long. Camps, open gyms, practices, weight training and scrimmages are all offered by coaches. By wanting to impress the coach and not be cut, athletes feel pressured or obligated to attend everything. This leads to said specialization because it becomes too hard physically and mentally to attend all requirements multiplied by two or three sports. 

“When we, as coaches, only care about our own programs and what is best for us only, then we lose sight of what is truly best for our students,” Gibson said. 

Involvement in more than one sport decreases an athlete’s risk of overuse injuries. Repetitive motions, like using the same muscles for 12 months, means constantly using the same growing muscles and bones. Switching sports seasons also rotates the muscle groups a person uses, and allows some to relax. 

A common damaging effect from playing one sport 365 days a year is burnout. Starting a sport at a young age and playing a demanding role without change can lead to stressed out minds and losing the passion to play. According to the NCAA, basketball players are subject to the most burnout, with female basketball players taking the number one spot. 

“Players lose interest and may play for a season or two and then be done,” Gibson said. “This has been the issue for us the last two years with small senior classes.”

Currently, BHS is not seeing the success in athletics that has historically been known for. Football did not win one game, volleyball did not make it to state and not enough seniors are competing in sports which impacts the success of a team. The decline in athletic victories can be partially blamed on burnout in students. 

“I have seen probably the most absences this past fall than any year I have coached,” Gibson said. 

Bismarck athletics, as a whole, is losing sight of what it means to be a teammate. Not showing up to practice is showing lack of support and being there for the team and fellow players. 

“It is virtually impossible for a player to miss practice and be placed into a starting position on Friday nights,” Gibson said.  

Because they are given more opportunities of leadership and responsibility, multiple sport athletes showcase better sportsmanship and drive.

To remain eligible for athletics, a student must succeed in school work before getting put into the game. If grades do not comply, the athlete will be stuck on the bench until the grades go up. If in a sport all school year, athletes must follow this rule just as long. Therefore, students who are in sports must keep themselves in check in order to perform well on the field or court. 

“I believe multi-sport athletes have a more rounded educational experience,” Gibson said. “They get to be with different players which also enhances their relationships among their peers.”

Students who are also involved in other extracurricular activities outside of athletics see even more variety in achievement. A football player in choir not only has a lengthy college application, but the skills learned in both will apply in life longer than a scholarship or state championship. 

“It is important that athletes learn how to compete as much as possible,” Gibson said. “The more activities and organizations a student can belong to may open some doors later in life with relationships they build.”