Sarah Stultz: Pressures facing society’s youth are immense

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, February 22, 2022

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Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

I hate to say it, but I did not watch a minute of the most recent Olympic games. 

We got rid of our cable last year and don’t have any rabbit ears, so we’re not able to watch things live. I have to really be into something to watch it after the fact, and before I knew it, the closing ceremonies were over.

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Though I didn’t watch any of the Olympics, I did, however, follow the headlines of some of the sports through news articles and have been particularly interested in what took place in the women’s figure skating events. 

For those who have not followed it at all, a 15-year-old Russian figure skater tested positive for a banned substance before the Games but was still allowed to compete.

According to the Associated Press, she tested positive for trimetazidine, a drug the World Anti-Doping Agency categorizes as a “hormone and metabolic modulator.” The drug is believed to bolster endurance and improve circulation when taken without cause. 

The young skater was a member of the Russian team skate, which won that event, but the medal ceremony for that event has been canceled until her case is resolved.

This skater was also in medal contention in the women’s singles skating event but fell in the free-skate event, and as a result slipped to fourth place, right out of reach of a medal. 

At the same time, the 17-year-old reigning world champion, also from Russia, won gold and another teammate won silver. 

As the 15-year-old walked off in tears, the silver medalist could reportedly be heard saying she hated skating and never wanted to return again, voicing that she felt robbed of the gold. 

The gold medalist, though she should have been happy, said she felt empty. 

The dynamics gave insight into the world of Russian figure skating but also a glimpse into the pressure these young Olympians face. 

They face pressures to win, not only for themselves and their coaches, but for their countries. And if they don’t win, they feel like they have failed. 

It made me think about the pressures all of our youth face, whether it is in competitive sports or other activities, academics, with their peers and the list goes on and on.

Though obviously we want to set our youth up to succeed, at some point we have to remind ourselves to step back in some moments and just let them enjoy being young.

With the rise in mental health concerns among our youth, what can we do to relieve some of the pressure they are facing? 

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune.