Struggles of the Student Athlete

Struggles of the Student Athlete

College is known for being difficult, and it is a challenge for everybody. Time management and getting assignments finished on time is one of the many struggles of being a student, but what if you add being an athlete into the mix? Student athletes are some of the most dedicated students there are because not only are they facing all the obstacles the average college student has, but they’re also tackling all of the responsibilities of an athlete.

One struggle athletes face is fatigue and lack of sleep from the demands of both their sport and their classes. Abby Niehues, a junior basketball player at SNU, stated, “I know everyone in college is mentally exhausted, but I’m usually physically exhausted too.” 

Every student likely experiences their share of all-nighters or restless nights, but for some student athletes, this is a regular occurrence because it may be the only opportunity they have to finish school work due to their tight schedules during the days. For many student athletes, practices are in the early mornings before the average student is even awake. These early practices are a huge cause for the exhaustion student athletes are all too familiar with.

Student athletes also tend to deal with added pressure and stress. Like every student, athletes need to pass their classes, but unlike regular students, they are required to uphold a certain GPA. Some would argue that is a nice trade-off for a sports scholarship, but only those who have never been a student athlete would stand by that— it is anything but easy. It’s difficult for everyone, but especially difficult for athletes who have to work to find time for homework around required practices and games. All of these requirements can feel impossible and overwhelming.

Emilie Jackson, a sophomore on the SNU Golf team, expressed the conflicts she faces. She said, “I think it’s a struggle for the golf team to keep up with schoolwork during the season because we usually miss two days of classes for each tournament. We either have to do it on the road or in the hotel rooms, so it’s super difficult to finish work and get enough sleep.” Not only are they pressured academically, but they also get pushed by coaches to be the best at their sport. All of this pressure can oftentimes be too much for student athletes, but many have no choice because their sports scholarship is their only ticket to a college education.

Student athletes often miss out on some of the best parts of the college experience due to their tight schedules and athletic commitments. Because their days are so busy, they either don’t have the time or the energy to spend time with friends or to attend school events. Downtime is either extremely rare or nonexistent for an athlete. Though they experience a sense of community with their teammates, they sometimes miss out on other opportunities outside of their teams due to the demands of their practice and school schedules.

Being a student athlete is clearly no easy feat, and it definitely takes a large amount of dedication and hard work that shouldn’t go unnoticed. It’s certainly not for everyone, but those who can do it have immense fortitude and commitment. It takes hard work, but the passion and love for the sport makes all of the struggles worth it.

(Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash)