Student Athlete Struggles Dominic Mulcahy


Practice-Class-Life- This is the balance of having to practice studying for class and having a social life. These are the three hardest things to balance when student athletes are trying to manage their time. They have to balance staying eligible with grades, going to practice, and having a social life with their friends.

Student Athlete-A person who goes to school while also trying to balance a sports schedule. A student-athlete and their struggles is what the topic is about and how these struggles affect their day to day lives. These struggles are mostly about balancing their schedules and how to be a student then and athlete.

Sport Stress- The stress of performing at the highest level possible all of the time. This stressor is very real in college athletes because these athletes are competing at the highest level against other athletes that are just as good. Which means that if these athletes aren’t at their highest all of the time then they will lose.

NCAA-National College Athlete Association works with college schools in order to set up sports for athletes in college. This is one of a few associations but the NCAA is the largest.

Eligibility- Doing well enough academically to where a student is passing all of their classes and being able to play in games.

Why do student athletes feel out of place in school?

Mob mentality is a thing that occurs in everyday life, whether that be small crowd of people talking to their boss or a large group of people protesting the government. People change whenever they are within a certain group. According to a study done by Daniel Oppenheimer a professor of psychology and marketing at Anderson School of Management at UCLA student athletes feel that their teammates do not care about academics as much as them so they are pushed by mob mentality to study less. Oppenheimer’s study revealed, “When asked to assess how much their teammates cared about athletics, the athletes were close, guessing 8.8. However, when asked to evaluate how much their teammates cared about academics, those same athletes guessed only 7.8 – far below the 9+ average.” According to this study student athletes think that their teammates take school as a joke and try to breeze through it. This means that athletes do not want to feel out of place so to feel accepted they take easier classes and spend less time studying. This leads to athlete’s feeling out of place because they do not think they have the same values as their teammates. Student athletes feel out of place in general because they do not spend the average amount of time on things as normal students. The University of Queensland in Australia says that student athletes spend around 41% of their time just on their athletics alone. Which only leaves about 59% of their time to spend on sleep, school, and a social life. This is tough for student athletes to do because having a social life is an important aspect of the college experience; however, they need to fit a lot of things into a small amount of time. Having this little of a social life makes student athletes feel out of place because they miss things while practicing. Overall, student athletes have a different schedule than most students and they have to do different things than a normal student would which makes them feel out of place.

Are coaches a main stressor in the life of a student athlete?

There are many things coaches do to help students relax and not be stressed out; however, there are a lot of things coaches do to add pressure and stress to a student athlete’s life. To start, coaches should be stressing enjoying the game and learning how to play but instead coaches are now stressing winning over everything else. Aaron Pointer, the Metro Parks Tacoma commissioner states, “I thinks it’s gotten worse over the years. There’s more pressure to win. It’s all because of television and what people see coaches and players doing on television. … (Young players) think that’s the way they’re supposed to act.” Coaches play a major role in a student athlete’s life. Pointer believes that these coaches should not be so focused on winning and more focused on playing the game and teaching children life lessons. There is a coaching balance between wanting to win so badly that a coach keeps his best players out all of the time, and a coach working with all of their athletes to make them a better player and a better person. Jack Johnston, a junior at NPHS that runs cross country, plays soccer and lacrosse, explains how in his opinion his best high school coaches have certain qualities that make them a good coach. Jack said these qualities are to build confidence within the athlete, be good communicators, and to get the team to believe in themselves. This is the difference in quality of coaching that will make or break a student athlete’s stress load. Depending on the qualities of the coaches, they will either create more stress or relieve some of the stress.

Do student athletes struggle with mental health?

Mental health for anyone is a difficult thing to deal with for any person. Most people deal with mental health issues one way or another in their life with a friend, family member, or even themselves; however, student athletes have been know to struggle in mental health. More and more students are telling people about their struggles. Aaron Taylor, a graduate from Notre Dame who received his undergraduate degree in three and a half years, won the Lombardi Trophy as a top lineman in college football, was a two time All-American, and a first round NFL draft pick, clams that he had a lot of pressure put on him by everyone and that he was depressed. He went through some rough times in his childhood and he hid those into his game face. He did not want to look weak or feel intimidated so he hide the fact that he was depressed. The NCAA has seen his struggles and the struggles that other athletes are going through and they are trying to help as much as possible. The NCAA states, “Collegiate student-athletes face many of the same mental health risk factors as their non-athlete peers. However, their role as student-athletes may expose them to an additional set of risk factors. These risk factors can take the form of direct stressors (e.g., time demands, performance pressures, coaching style), interactions with others in their environment that encourage risk behaviors and discourage help seeking, harassment and discrimination related to personal characteristics such as race/ethnicity or sexual orientation.” These are just a few of many reasons that student athletes struggle with mental health. This is a large problem that is reoccurring over and over again for any combination of reasons explained by the NCAA.

How do most student athletes spend their time?

Each athlete has their own schedule depending on the sport, how much time is put into training, how much time is put into academics, and if a student has a social life. It is all based on students and their choices. For example, the average day for a Florida Gator Football player is spent very busy. According to the Florida potential player brochure this is their schedule, “Wake up 6:00-7:00 a.m., Eat breakfast 7:00-7:45 a.m, Class 8:00-11:30 a.m., Eat lunch 12:00-12:30 p.m., Lift 12:30-1:30 p.m., Fuel and recover 1:30-2:30 p.m., Meetings 2:30-3:30 p.m., Practice 3:30-5:30 p.m., Fuel and recover 6:00-6:30 p.m., Eat 6:30-7:00 p.m., Study 7:30-9:00 p.m.” This just includes time with the team. This list does not include extra studying time or even just time to relax and be social with friends. This is how most D1 athletes spend their time. Another study was done by the NCAA and Queens University of Charlotte who did a joint research to find that 43% of time goes into the sport. 53% of time is spent on school. This means that athletes have 20 hours of practice per week, 8 hours of weight training per week, and just under 9 hours at competitions per week. Student athletes are very busy in college and don’t have hardly any free time to be alone or by themselves to take time off and just relax. They are very busy people and need to spend their time wisely.

Research done by the NCAA and Queens University of Charlotte.

Some companies are trying to help student athletes with their problems to reduce stress by connecting them and creating a safe place to connect with others. This will help student athletes struggle for success easier.

Why do student athletes struggle academically?

Student athletes struggle with grades because of many reasons, one being motivation. For example the American Institutes for Research explained that student athletes are have sports for almost 25 hours a week in training, weight lifting, practice, and actually competing. This means that athletes are devoted to their team and they miss classes due to the team having an event. They also have to deal with injuries because of the sports they’re in. These are all distractions for student athletes that prevent them from succeeding in the classroom. If they struggle in the classroom they will lose motivation and overall will make them struggle academically. Just like in the article, “5 Reasons Student-Athletes Struggle Academically” states, “Motivation can be an academic killer and sadly, some athletes look at academics as the necessary evil of being a STUDENT-athlete. While some manage to navigate through the fog of classes with enough focus to remain eligible, others forget or entirely fail to realize the true purpose of their scholarship.” Meaning that when student athletes get to college they put their athletics before their schooling when the reason they’re going to college is that they are earning a degree to graduate and get a college degree. They’re motivated to do well in high school to get a scholarship for sport and now they just focus on sports which causes them to struggle academically.

MLA Citations

Brown, Daelin. "Athletes and coaches on what it takes to be a good coach." The Knight Crier. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

Hutchins, Andy. "Florida details football players' 15-hour days with daily schedule graphic." Alligator Army. Alligator Army, 09 June 2015. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

"Academic Motivation and the Student Athlete - ResearchGate." Covington, Martin, Rheenen, Derek, and Simons, Herbert. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

"The Student-Athlete Experience Infographic." Nicole Forgione Art and Design. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

"Game face isn't the only face." - The Official Site of the NCAA. 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

"Mental Health." - The Official Site of the NCAA. 26 Jan. 2016. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

"5 Reasons Student-Athletes Struggle Academically" 5 Reasons Student Athletes Struggle Academically Comments. 11 Mar. 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.


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