What It Feels Like To Be Suspended From Your Sport

John Howe

More stories from John Howe

Spring Fever
April 26, 2017

It felt pretty awful to be suspended from my sport. That may seem obvious, but there’s really nothing I can think of that relates to that feeling, at least in my life. You feel like you have let your entire team and coach down and have to just sit and watch as your team competes. It sucks to know you could’ve done something else, but you decided to ignore what the outcome would be.

As an athlete, you’re told to stay away from the temptations that can get you into trouble, but occasionally you’re not going to be the so-called “coach’s pet” and always do exactly what they want from you. Once I was caught, I knew exactly what was next to come, how could I not? It had been preached to me my entire career.

I knew I would be in trouble, but had no idea how long or what I would have to do to make up for my mistake. I heard stories about people getting suspended, but never imagined it would happen to me. I have never been so unsure of what my future held.

When my parents found out, they were obviously disappointed and upset with me and my actions. They were not expecting to go to my games to watch my teammates compete without me. Witnessing your child do something they love is said to be one of the greatest joys as a parent, but seeing them sitting on the sideline out of a punishment, not even wearing their uniform, is the complete opposite. I had felt like all of the other parents were judging my parents for not raising me right or snarling at them as they heard about what I had done. I felt as though my parents were embarrassed to be my parents.

Telling my coach was the worst part. I tried to act as professional as I could and tell him what had happened, hoping he wouldn’t hate me for the rest of my high school career. The whole time talking to him, I knew he would be upset with me and my actions. All I could do was just apologize for what I had done and say that it wouldn’t happen again.

Wearing my uniform to school was something I looked forward to every week, and to not be able to do so was awful. Every day that I wore my uniform, I was overcome with that good vibe of “game day” and that it was going to be a fun day. On the day that everyone was in uniform for the first game, I felt like everyone knew what had happened and was judging me, based solely on the glares I would receive from my peers in the hallway. I continued going through the day with my head down, trying to stay happy and normal, but that was a poor excuse for happiness. It just wasn’t that “game day” feeling every athlete aspires to have before a big game. There’s really no way to describe it until it’s gone.

This was only the build up to the season opener. My mind couldn’t even begin to fathom what the game would be like.

During the first game, it was awful seeing my teammates have a good time making the school proud of their sports teams, and I had to just sit and watch. I stood there thinking, not about me, but about the team. I had let down the people I had been competing and performing with my entire life. I would then turn to the crowd and think about the fans, these were some of the people that have been watching me since I was still in elementary school, and that hurt.

The next week at practice I cracked. I was scared and didn’t want to go through another game of watching, unable to compete with my team. I feared going to practice every day. What was the point? I wouldn’t be performing, I wouldn’t be making anyone proud and I was definitely not any help to anyone.

I gave up in a sense. I didn’t want to try anymore, and was on the verge of quitting. Luckily, with the support of my teammates, I was able to look past the bad and get excited for my return to doing what I loved.

My teammates were surprisingly supportive through the whole process. After they had their fun making jokes about my mistakes, which was awful to say the least, they were excited for me to return to competing with them. They saw how upset being suspended made me and tried to cheer me up as best as they could. If it weren’t for their support, I have no idea how my season would have gone, or if I would have even made it through.

Once the whole fiasco was over, I was able to finish out my season stronger than ever before. It was a relief to see people proud and excited to see me doing what I loved once again.

I know I made a poor choice and I never want to feel that way again. Nothing has ever felt so upsetting knowing I let my entire team down. Watching the whole team work their butts off as I sat by for a silly mistake I had made felt terrible to say the least. I now know what it means to never take anything you love for granted.