Most sports interns spend a lot of time thinking about the type of internships they should pursue, such as whether they are paid or unpaid, so they are prepared for the economic costs and see them as necessary if they want to advance in their careers. But these positions have some other costs as well that have nothing to do with dollars and cents.
The very nature of sports internships, or any other internship for that matter, can have some significant consequences for your health. Fortunately, with just a few easy changes, these consequences are easy to prevent.
As the lowest employees in the organizational hierarchy, sports interns typically spend most of their hours working on the tasks that no one else wants to do, and that often includes reviewing a lot of YouTube videos from aspiring professional athletes. Most computer screens were not made for such long-term viewing, so as many as 90 percent of computer users have at least some vision impairment symptoms.
These symptoms are typically mild, but they are also typically noticeable. Moreover, tired, itchy and red eyes adversely affect productivity. Here are some ways to avoid these symptoms:
- Reduce Light: You may not want to keep your office as dark as this one, but excessive light causes many problems. Computer screens are so bright that the other light in the room needs to be about half its normal intensity. Turn off the lamps and, with your boss’ permission, unscrew one of the overhead light bulbs.
- Reduce Glare: If you’re lucky enough to have a window, keep the blinds closed. Also consider placing an anti-glare sheet over your computer screen.
- Optimize Screen Settings: If the white background of this web page looks like a light source, the screen is probably too bright. On the other hand, if the screen looks grey or darkish, the brightness setting is probably too low.
If you have health insurance or your boss will reimburse you (and admittedly, both those things are long shots for most interns), schedule a visit with an eye doctor to establish a baseline and get more tips.
Frequent breaks are another good way to reduce eye strain. Needless to say, texting on your phone during your break defeats the purpose. A break from your desk to walk around and stretch may also minimize the significant dangers associated with prolonged sitting, because as the saying goes, sitting is the new smoking.
Sitting can even cause a sports injury. Most athletes know that hamstring injuries are incredibly painful and very slow to heal. Prolonged sitting can lead to chronic hamstring tendinopathy, which is basically a degenerative condition which affects the tendons that connect the sit bone to the pelvis.
You may also want to try adding a back support for your chair which reinforces the natural inward curve of your back and encourages better posture The extra padding not only helps prevent injury, but can also make you more productive.
One particularly intense poor diet story involves the intern who supposedly went to restaurants, ordered bowls of hot water, added catsup, and made his own tomato soup. And there’s also the classic scene of Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) savoring a Burger King cheeseburger in the movie The Terminal like it was the last meal of a condemned man because he’d had enough of cracker sandwiches.
It is definitely true that many interns subsist on peanut butter and Ramen noodles. That’s clearly not a healthy long-term strategy, especially if you are already overweight or have some other chronic health issues. Conventional wisdom is that the pre-packaged foods in the middle grocery store aisles are a lot cheaper than the fresh foods in the outside refrigerated units or other display cases, but that’s not necessarily true.
- Popcorn: Did you know popcorn is actually a whole grain? We’re not talking Orville Redenbacher extra heavy movie butter popcorn here. Buy some dry corn kernels, place a few handfuls into a paper lunch sack, and microwave for a minute or two. Add a little salt or other seasoning for taste, and enjoy.
- Fruits and Vegetables: They usually aren’t as expensive as you think, especially if purchased at a farmer’s market or while on sale.
- Whole Grains: Avoid anything white (flour, rice, bread, and so on). Instead, purchase brown grains like whole oats and brown rice. The additional germ and bran means more fiber, which expands in your stomach and also helps prevent heart disease.
- Protein: We all need protein, but not near as much as one might think. In fact, just one chicken strip has almost half the protein needed for the day. Add a few eggs at breakfast, and you’re good to go.
When eating out, order from the children’s menu or look for smaller portion options. If that’s not an option, simply halve what the restaurant serves you and take the rest home for lunch tomorrow.
Many interns relocate to take very low-paying positions. The sudden lifestyle change is usually quite a shock, so be prepared.
Cultivate relationships at work. No one will look down on you if you order a Sprite at happy hour because you cannot afford anything else. Living with roommates is a good idea as well, and there are lots of Craigslist rooms-for-rent listings. Finally, go out and be social at least a few times a month. Other people will think it’s cool that you work in sports management, and it’s okay to be a little vague about your exact work duties or pay scale.
The bottom line is that you do not have to sacrifice your physical or mental health to be a good sports intern.