In view of the London 2012 Olympics, where the Government is putting extra emphasis on sports in schools, it fascinates me how people manage to combine school work with their chosen sport.

As my younger brother plays hockey for his school, I have witnessed first hand how he struggles to fit in all his academic work around all his training and matches for his sport. I have therefore decided to interview sports people in the sixth form from the two most popular sports played at my school, Langley Park Boys School, Beckenham – Hockey and Rugby. This is so I can get their verdict on the balance between sports and academic work at Langley Park. How often do you play your sport?

Hockey Player 1: During the season we train 3 times a week and normally play on both weekend days, however one training session is a conditioning session indoors to work on fitness.

Rugby Player 1: I usually play 3 nights a week which is training and then usually take part in matches on the weekend.

How much of your week is taken up with sport? (Both matches and training) Hockey Player 3: A lot of my week is taken up by hockey – with everything included I would say around 13 hours. Rugby Player 2: I would say that approximately 13 hours of my week is taken up with rugby.

How do your academic teachers react when you are away for sporting reasons?

Hockey Player 1: Most teachers are very unsympathetic about it, mostly those who don’t actually like sport. The teachers do offer times to help catch up work, or give out work sheets which help to stay on track with class work. Other teachers are very good about it, giving up their time to go over things you miss.

Rugby Player 2: From my personal experience, I rarely miss lessons for rugby, however when I do they are usually fine with it – maybe because I don’t take that many off in the first place?

Do you find it difficult balancing your sporting and academic commitments?

Hockey Player 1: No, I think playing the sport only increases your performance academically and I believe there is no problem balancing the two as long as you concentrate.

Rugby Player 2: Yes, sometimes I’m so tired after training or matches that I wont do work and therefore am left behind in some of my lessons but through my own fault.

How often do you find you miss lessons for your sport?

Hockey Player 2: I can’t give a definite figure although I know that I do miss lessons quite often during the season.

Hockey Player 3: I don’t believe I miss lessons that regularly for sport, especially now I’m in the Sixth form but I did a lot more in lower years. When lessons are missed, it’s usually 5th period lessons when we're playing school matches or even whole days if it’s a big tournament.

Rugby Player 2: I don’t miss lessons very often for rugby. If I do, it is usually for something big like a tournament which happens once a year.

Do you think there is anything that can be done to improve the balance for students?

Hockey Player 1: I think the balance is correct, but teachers need to respect that missing lessons for sport is not something we want to do, and respect the effort we put into the sport as well as our academic work that we catch up on in our free time.

Hockey Player 3: After going on an Australian hockey tour, I personally believe that the Australian system is better – where all sports matches are played within school hours (before 3pm) and it is the teachers responsibility to make the pupils catch up on work as opposed to the pupil having to find out what they missed. I believe this system would work better.

Rugby Player 2: I think the balance is fine. The only thing that I could think of that would improve the balance would be less training or less homework but we all know that isn’t going to happen!

Because many schools put so much emphasis on sport, do you think this is to your benefit or making your academic life harder?

Hockey Player 1: I believe it benefits me greatly, as it gives us a release, whilst also keeping us fit and healthy. The tours and opportunities that the sport provides are once in a life time, that I would not be able to experience otherwise. The friends you make whilst playing benefit you too as well as the connections formed with teachers which allow you to ask them for help academically – a healthy body is a healthy mind!

Hockey Player 2: I think that playing sport is definitely to my benefit as through sport I have been on tours and experienced things that I wouldn’t have been able to without it e.g. Australia and Mexico tours. I do not feel it has effected my learning in any significant way at all.

Rugby Player 1: I believe there is a benefit as Langley Sport has allowed me to travel to different countries. If I’m completely honest, sport is half the reason I’m still at school!

After interviewing the players, I have come to the conclusion that the balance is different for every individual and depends on which sport they play. Four out of the five sports people interviewed said they found it difficult balancing school and sport. This, together with Hockey Player 3 suggesting a possible Australian model as better than the current for balancing academic and sports, is evidence that the system could be changed for the better.

What is clear though the interviews, is that sport is a very important part of my school’s culture and enables students to experience new things that they would not have been able to otherwise. Sport is not only an enjoyable activity for students but as one rugby player commented ‘Sport is half the reason I’m still at school’ and I believe this is evidence of the positive impact sport has on students at my school today, regardless of the current system.