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Life of an athlete: balancing sports and academics

Published: Thursday, September 18, 2008

Updated: Sunday, February 22, 2009 13:02

Being an athlete in college can be a very time-consuming task. Because it is necessary to practice almost every day and have games scattered throughout the practice schedule, sports seem extremely important to a student athlete. Coaches do stress that it is imperative for their student athletes to do well with their schoolwork, and believe that school is their number one priority; as opposed to the sport that they are participating in - but, still, with all the time that athletics take up, is there enough time to study hard and get good grades? An average day for a student athlete is spent with 1 hour of lifting weights and/or individual practice and about 2 hours of mandatory practice. Without including any games and travel time, these practice times can easily add up to 15-20 hours a week. Along with these practices each day, an average student takes 4-5 classes during a semester, which add up to 10-15 hours of class time per week. There are just as many hours spent practicing as there are spent in class. Both require mental preparedness, hard work, and focus which become difficult to apply to schoolwork and sports that take up almost an entire day, every day. "It's harder to focus on school during the season because of the time constraint, as opposed to the off season, when we have more time for our studies," said Leslie Armstrong, a member of the women's volleyball team. There are two seasons into which sports are split: the championship season and the non-traditional season. During a particular sports championship season, when the sport is in season and competing, there are 20 hours a week allowed for practice and four hours per day maximum of practice. For this allotted time athletes can either be practicing, weight lifting, reviewing films, or meeting with their coach about sports. Athletes are allowed one day off per week. Any competition away or home is recorded as 3 hours. This includes traveling time, which is not included in the practice or competing hours per week. Several hours are spent traveling to distant locations and require overnight stays at hotels. Considering when an athlete has to practice and compete, there are many hours dedicated to creating time restriction, leaving a limited amount of hours left for studying. "When becoming a student athlete you have to strengthen your abilities to become better at time management," said Shawn Bowen, a member of the men's basketball team. "I can relate this not to just my athletic experience but to every day life as well." Student athletes learn to manage their time productively by not being able to waste the limited time they have. They tend to plan ahead with daily schedules that organize their time as necessary to fulfill each of their responsibilities. Athletes are told by coaches to eat well and get a good night's sleep. Without an abundance of free time on their hands, it's easy to avoid being lackadaisical or stuffing their faces while watching T.V. for hours out of "boredom". Sports can be beneficial to an individual because they allow college students time to clear their mind of academic and social pressures and just enjoy something they really like doing. The non-stop days of classes, studying, practicing, and competing can leave a student athlete feeling quite exhausted at the end of the day, no less the end of the week. Despite the high demands, most student athletes are able to manage their limited time wisely and benefit from the opportunities they have been given.

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