Sports permeate every aspect of the high school experience. From Friday game days to trophies lining the hallways, sports are an omnipresent aspect in the life of American teens, whether they participate themselves or not.

For those who do partake, sports can be a major stressor. Competitive pressures make victory the ultimate goal, at any cost. Devotion to the game trumps other considerations, making balance in life difficult. Work-outs and games must be juggled with school, sleep and downtime.

Given the problems that high school sports can engender among students, we must take action to improve the athletic culture at UAHS.

The unique structure of youth sports in America, in which athletics are run through schools, means that schools bear a share of responsibility to address these problems.

To that end, we call on school and district officials to implement policies conducive to healthier relationships between students and their athletic activities. Counselors should be given further training in helping students to deal with the pressures of athletic performance, college commitments and other items student-athletes deal with. Coaches should empower students with the tools and resources needed to have healthy balance between athletics and academics, mental health and other aspects of life.

Students, too, have a role to play. Captains should aim to foster a team culture that emphasizes boundary-setting and healthy habits over a ruthless, win-at-all-costs mentality.

Students should also question the role sports play in the broader context of high school. For example, they should consider ways in which other activities, from robotics to mock trial, can be incorporated into UAHS life and culture.

It is not a bad thing that sports play such a large role in the high school experience. It is only out of an appreciation for the value of athletics that we suggest these reforms. These ideas have the potential of making high school athletics more inclusive, healthy and balanced.