The Challenges of Student-Athletes

Attending college, students pursuing any degree goes through the barbaric workload of assignment and studying required to pass all classes. In addition, attending school and being confronted with textbooks to read and projects to prepare can be overwhelming, causing a decrease in one’s social life and an increase in stress. This occurrence is a common theme for college students across the world. What’s mind-boggling is to imagine maneuvering through the typical college life and playing a sport simultaneously. In the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), there are 504,619 college athletes across the United States, and here at Texas State University, there are 434.

The responsibilities of being a student are challenging enough, but once the word athlete is connected, it goes to extremes. An athlete in college immediately is put at a disadvantage with a focus on two things critical to their college objectives. Time away from the sport is time away from class work, and time for class work is time away from the sport, so how do they manage to endure everything on their plate?

After talking to some athletes that attend Texas State, it’s become apparent that time is the enemy in all things sports-related in college. These athletes practice hard all year long and have to work harder when the season starts. Practice takes up a large portion of time from these students, which plays a significant role in executing necessary tasks toward education; however, being student-athletes, there are some benefits handed to them to compensate for the vigorous schedule and routine they handle.

Nate Martin, a forward on the Texas State men’s basketball team, explained to me the edges given to athletes on campus, “Personal advantages are the academic resources and privileges such as just like getting to choose classes first or the tutoring that comes with it at our athletic academic center, also the meals they provide.”

As great as those sounds, it doesn’t seem to combat most struggles faced while being a student-athlete. The ability to make time for their personal life and school is still a battle for them, even with certain advantages. Although they help, it doesn’t seem to create any healthier routine.

“The most challenging part about being in school and playing a sport is just the time management,” said Nate Martin. “We’ll always have something going on, whether it’s a social thing, grades, school, work, practice, games, travel. Just managing the time and making sure you get everything done. It’s pretty stressful.”

Nate wasn’t the only athlete with something to say about time management. Zeke Wood is a pitcher on the baseball team at Texas State and goes through the same difficulties as a basketball player working around the clock to keep up with everything going on.

“It’s a busy, busy day every single day. Get out of class and along practice or lift at five thirty or six o’clock,” described Zeke Wood. “You come home, and you’re exhausted, but you still have to, you know, to manage time to study, get ready for tests, do your homework, and by the time you look up, it’s already ten, eleven o’clock, and you need sleep.”

These students are a different breed of people balancing the hurdle of sports and school, but arguably the most vital aspect of these students is that they are humans and need to keep up a healthy personal and social life. Maintaining to make while for friends and family is essential aside from conducting the duties they have in college. 55% of all athletes in college are either overwhelmed or mentally exhausted, as found in a study done by the NCAA in 2021.

Social life for student-athletes is in a weird position. It’s one of those things where working around their schedule is prioritized rather than a time convenient for the other. However, there will be the time in the off-season but a lack thereof once the season begins.

“Social life is a little bit different,” Zeke Wood expressed. “It’s one thing you got to get used to as a student-athlete, there are days and weekends we have completely off, and it’s different right now for the fall. We’re not practicing and playing as much versus the spring.”

Listening to what these athletes illustrated about the surgical use of their time, the physical and mental stress absorbed, and the ability to execute a personal life simultaneously, it’s truly incredible what these students can do. They go through all these things because it’s worth it to them to play the sport they love and be part of a team representing their college. It’s hard to fully understand what goes on in the life of a student-athlete until hearing it firsthand.

After being educated about this particular life in college, it was intriguing to hear an outsider’s point of view of what they think it’s like being an athlete and student without having any prior knowledge of the facts.

“I’d imagine it’s no different than any other student,” said Andrew Rogister, a Texas State student and a sports fan. “I mean, it’s just a few added hours of practice and training to the day-to-day. Plus, the games and stuff.”

He couldn’t be more wrong.

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