Recreational Sports Are Antidepressant

sad vader
Sad Vader needs to go play some lax

Have you been feeling a little down in the dumps lately?  Are you starting to think it just might not be worth it anymore?  Do you feel like your get-up-and-go just got up and went?  Well these are all tell-tale signs of clinical depression, and even though we are in the throes of the lacrosse off-season, there is plenty to be happy about my laxin compadre!

Check out this article from’s True Hoop blog. In summary, it’s is a recap of a response from depression researcher (as well as basketball stat geek) Stephen Ilardi, Ph.D.  He discusses the antidepressant power of basketball, stating that:

…researchers have found [aerobic exercise] to be at least as effective as depression medications…

Source: Basketball as Antidepressant

Ilardi goes on to list several other reasons why pick-up sports in general contain many elements of a clinically-qualified antidepressant.  Among them are exposure to sunlight and a network of friends, something which is actually quite common with our beloved sport of lacrosse.

Getting ‘bounds and vitamin D

From a personal perspective, I can definitely attest to the improved livelihood I have experienced from recreational sports.  There are, of course, the benefits from general aerobic exercise when you’re engaged in athletic activity, the vitamin D from sunlight, and the enhanced sleep quality you gain after working out.  But there is also such a deep community surrounding most sports out there.  I have spent time playing pickup basketball with Craven himself in the self-proclaimed Sunset ballers pickup league, and of course many lacrosse summer leagues, camps, and tourneys.  I have gained nothing but great friends, good health, and an unfathomable love for life from these experiences.

One specific benefit I can give testimony to is the network of friends and connections lacrosse enables.  I have been playing since grade school, and have collected a mass of friends through the years.  As the intensity level increased, I found it difficult to balance full-time club lax with full-time school and part-time work.  I was a little worried about losing these friends off the field, but in fact I have remained in contact with most ever since.  Furthermore, this network of friends who remain connected to lacrosse have enabled me to get back into it after my hiatus, so to speak.  I have reconnected with my high school coach who has given me the opportunity to coach little league lax.  I have been writing for this incredible site and loving it.  And I am consistently inundated with news of pickup games and tourneys.  It almost becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy after you’ve been integrated – it seems at times that I couldn’t escape lacrosse even if I tried, not that I ever would.     And its the same for most sports: give them a start and they will pervade your life, making it increasingly harder to get depressed.

Source: Lorne Smith Lax Camp
Source: Lorne Smith Lax Camp

For the recreational lax player in Oregon, the go-to organization is clearly lacrosse NW.  Whether its summer league or the upcoming fall ball, the northwest lax player is sure to find the ultimate cure for off-season, or even clinical, depression.   Another possibility that I have been made aware of through my connections are the pickup games at Portland State on Friday nights, though they are most likely wanning as the end of summer approaches.  Their website has more information as well as contact info for anyone seriously interested. Who knows, you might even spot a W1LDF1RE on the field!

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Four years of Varsity lax in high school and 2 state titles and a little college ball under the belt. Barton is writing to spread the thrill that lax has brought to his life. Friends call him Wildfire because he's out of control. And sometimes he burns things.