Pressures of being a student athlete

The difficulty of managing a full-time sport and schoolwork


By Katie Snell

Over 55.5 percent of high school students are involved in sports, according to U.S. News. These students fall victim to an internal conflict, having to answer a difficult question: which comes first, athletics or academics?

On one hand, it is hard not to want to prioritize sports over school. For many athletes, playing their sport is more enjoyable than attending classes, studying or doing homework. There is also the thought that if a student practices their sport enough, the possibility of a scholarship opens up.

Students relying on sports scholarships will most likely want to focus on sports over grades, as that is their planned ticket to college.

However, academics are weighted heavily in our society. We are taught in school to prioritize academic studies over all other aspects of our life. The education atmosphere is stressful enough, without piling on an average of 11.3 sports practice hours per week, according to American Academy of Pediatrics.

So the question remains: what should student athletes put first?

This leads to another new question: why should student athletes have to decide between the two? Both sports and academics are extremely important in student athletes’ lives, and balancing them shouldn’t have to be an internal conflict.

Student athletes should be able to handle both their sport and schoolwork. It should not be extremely difficult to manage both time commitments.

Sleep is considered critical to both academic and athletic performances, according to Teens and Sleep. In a study conducted at Harvard-Westlake School, over 75 percent of student athletes suffered from sleep deprivation, reporting that they consistently got less than eight of sleep per night.

Getting a healthy amount of sleep is a problem for student athletes, and many enter a vicious cycle every night of getting home late from sports and staying up late doing homework, according to The Foundation for Global Sports Development.

Teachers and administration should make it a focus to provide opportunities for student athletes to stay caught up with school, yet also spend an appropriate amount of time playing a sport that is enjoyable.

A huge concern for this generation is that students aren’t spending enough time outside or exercising. I think this problem has an easy solution. The education system needs to make it easier for students to play sports and still manage all academic focuses.

If school policies concerning deadline extensions for student athletes existed, students would have more options for extracurriculars.

High school administration and staff must be aware of the required commitments that student athletes face for their sports. Staff meetings should be held prior to each of the three high school sports seasons.

These meetings would include a distributed schedule for each sport and a brief speech from one coach for each sport.

Having teachers learn about student athlete’s schedules and commitments would make it easier and more efficient for the students to complete all their work on time and continue to be successful in their academics.

Athletes should be able to dedicate time to their sport, while also keeping up with their academics.