By definition, a “student-athlete” is a participant in an organized competitive sport sponsored by the educational institution in which he or she is enrolled. BUT… if you ask any of us, there’s way more to it.
Being a student-athlete does have its disadvantages, but the advantages are the things that keep us playing. Here is my list of the top five advantages and disadvantages of being a student-athlete.
1. Sleep, or lack thereof – A “good” night of sleep is between six and seven hours. Students stay up late to study. Athletes wake up early to train and practice. Combine both of those and, needless to say, student-athletes are sleep deprived. It’s a good day if you have time for a 20 minute power nap but – let’s be real – by that definition, good days are rare.
2. Attendance, or lack thereof – We’ve all heard it. Athletes usually just skip class because we’re only here to play a sport. The truth is, we miss class because we’re traveling to games. Some games are more than a six-hour drive away. Trust me. If we didn’t have to miss class, we wouldn’t. (Missing class is cause for extra running in practice.)
3. Full-Time Job – When we’re asked if we have a job, we answer, “Yes, it’s my sport.” If you think we’re kidding, you’re mistaken. In an average week without games, we spend up to six days and 15 hours practicing. Weeks with games mean scouting reports, film sessions and pregame walk-throughs. But wait… Don’t forget preseason! Before games are even on our radar, we have conditioning, lifting and practice. Don’t tell us that’s not a full time job.
4. Our Bodies Take a Toll – We battle every game to not only get the win for our team, but also to make our school proud. If you’re in a contact sport, your body is your weapon; it takes a beating. Even if you’re not in a contact sport, your body still gets sore time after time. We play because we love it, not because it’s easy.
5. We Miss Our Family – Some of us come across the country to come to school, some travel across town, but what we both have in common is we all go extended periods of time without seeing our family. “That’s what holiday breaks are for” they say. What a lot of people don’t know is that we get time off from school for breaks but not from our sport. We still have practice and, if we don’t, we’re still expected to stay in shape for when we come back for practice.
It all sounds pretty depressing, but when you look at the advantages, the disadvantages are greatly outweighed.
1. Dreams Are Fulfilled – For many of us, it’s our dream to keep playing the sport we love after high school. Being a collegiate athlete allows us to fulfill that dream.
2. Scholarships – College is expensive. But when you play a collegiate sport, you get the opportunity to receive an athletic scholarship. What a great feeling it is knowing that you get to play the sport you live for, while receiving money to further your education.
3. Freshman 15? What’s that?! – We’ve all heard of the “freshman 15,” but, being an athlete, you’re likely to skip that dreaded phase. Since you practice/work out nearly every day, you are assured to keep the weight off. And you get to do it doing what you love.
4. Learning to Prioritize – If there’s one tool that is essential in life, it is being able to prioritize. With the hectic schedule a sport creates between practices and, it’s hard to stay balanced. You have to find time to fit in studies, campus activities and a social life (this is college, after all). Luckily, playing a sport forces you to develop and utilize this skill.
5. Friends – By being on a sports team, you will make friendships that will last a lifetime. You develop a bond that only teammates understand. You’ll celebrate together during the big wins, you’ll deal with the devastating losses together, and, chances are, you’ll probably scream at the top of your lungs yelling your favorite song together during the long bus rides. The truth of the matter is, you wouldn’t get to know many these people without that sport bringing you together.
Being a student-athlete is tough, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. There are wins and losses; successes and challenges, but they’re all worth it. Trust me. Sorry to cut this short, but I have to get to practice…
By Jeremy Deemer ’18