Sports column: Under Pressure: The life of a student-athlete

Published 9:50 am Monday, September 12, 2022

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By LAUREN SEXTON | Sports Reporter

At some point in time, almost everyone has attempted to play a sport. For many, a lot of our childhood memories revolve around being on a team and dedicating so much of our time to these sports that we loved to play (or possibly hated but were forced into). But have we forgotten as a society the pressures these student-athletes have? Has the media and fans become too harsh on these kids that started playing just for fun? How could something that started out as being fun push these kids to their breaking point?

Regardless of what generation you belong to, everyone was a teenager at some point. Every little thing seemed so big then. Trying out for the varsity team, doing homework on the bus ride to an away game, winning the big rivalry game, studying for the big test, making it to playoffs, the list goes on and on. That’s the life of a student-athlete.

Trying to maintain the balance between being a student and an athlete is a hard task to manage at a pretty young age. These kids need to maintain their grades in order to participate in the sports they love. They’re a student before being an athlete, sometimes it is easy to forget when you’re a spectator. Of course, we want our alma maters to win, but these athletes have lives beyond the field.

The day in the life of a high school student-athlete is completely wild to think about, it is hard to imagine most of the time. Some wake up long before the sunrises to practice before they have their first class of the day. Then they sit in classrooms for hours learning and preparing for their futures outside of high school, some hoping to pursue a collegiate career in their sport. After a long day of listening to their teachers, they spend the next few hours at yet another practice or having a game. By the time they arrive home, it could range between 6 pm and 9 pm (at best) and now they have endless amounts of homework. It’s just exhausting writing about the incredibly hectic schedule, hard to imagine a time when I was just like them.

So have we as a society forgotten about the student behind the athlete? We attend the weekly games and see them as the athlete that they are on the court or field, critiquing them as if this was their sole career. High school and college kids face the same criticism as Tom Brady or Serena Williams. I think we forget that they’re just kids, why do we treat them like they’re adults?

Student-athletes all pretty much dream of making it big, playing and practicing all year round. They sacrifice so much of their youth. It is so easy for them to burn out physically and mentally, so why are we making the decision easier for them by being so critical? Social media is always a good scapegoat when it comes to pointing fingers, however, there are people behind that username. 

We’ve honestly become harsher and harsher on these kids. We all want them to strive to be their best, but at what cost? Being a student-athlete is like a job but without financial compensation. I think we all need to remember, especially with the fall sports season being here that those athletes on the field are just kids, and you were once one too.