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All young students attend college with a goal to further their education. However, some students start their school year with more goals than others. College-aged student athletes work to expand their knowledge and play an active sport simultaneously. Some question whether or not this is academically beneficial. Many argue that actively participating in an athletic sport greatly distracts from the academic progress. There is a considerable amount of evidence to support this claim. It is found that only 88 percent of all college student athletes in the United States graduate from their university. That number does not seem as disastrous when alone, but next to the 94 percent of non-student-athletes nationwide who complete their education, there is clearly something about balancing academics and athletics that hampers students from graduating (Newhouse, 2017). There are many possible factors that contribute to a student athlete’s deficiency. Poor time management, severe experiences of self-doubt, and physical stress are some of the many factors that contribute to the student athlete’s decline in higher education. All of these drastically contribute to the lower percentage of student athlete graduates.
The first factor that negatively hinders a student athlete is poor time management skills. Inability to properly find time for both academics and athletics is the leading cause of a student athlete’s failure. Being too devoted to their sport, student athletes are inattentive to their schoolwork. They often skip study time to attend practices, and skip classes to attend away games. Most people can not handle too much on their plate, and so student athletes are forced to choose between one or the other. Usually, the student chooses athletics as their number one priority, most likely because they have a scholarship to maintain. This choice very negatively affects their schoolwork and tests scores. Moreover, those who do not end up becoming professional athletes end up failing out (Gerdy, 2017). Academic programs and extracurricular activities require an equal amount of attention, and it takes outstanding time management skills to succeed both on and off of the court. However, most college athletes, especially adjusting freshmen, have a difficult time balancing schoolwork with both practice and game time. This is where some fail. Inferior time management skills are the main cause of the downfall of many student athletes.
Not only do student athletes struggle severely with time management, they also face a lot of insecurities throughout their college career. Self-doubt among student athletes is common, and it stems from a number of things. Coercion is the largest cause of self-doubt. Most college athletes receive a large scholarship from their university for their athletic achievements in high school, and with the scholarship comes the immense pressure to retain it. Student athletes not only have to work to keep a high grade point average, but they must also stay active in their sport (Simons, Rheenen, & Covington, 2017). There is too much pressure to be successful both in the classroom and out on the playing field. The stress of retaining a scholarship causes insecurities and self-doubt in the student, and interferes with success quite often. Fear is another main contributor to the insecurities that envelope student athletes. Along with pressure, there is tremendous fear of failure. Student athletes are so afraid of losing their scholarship that they surrender focus and allow their fear to become reality. They doubt their ability to juggle both academics and athletics, and that sometimes results in failure nonetheless (Simons, 2017).
Along with the emotional stress that student athletes must undergo, there are some physical hardships as well. Extreme fatigue is a serious issue among student athletes. Juggling practice, games, and schoolwork can be exhausting, especially for a freshman student who is newly adapting to college. Fatigue from strenuous college athletics greatly affects a student athlete’s academic performance because it leads to them submitting lazy or careless work, and often partially incomplete assignments. Lethargy also causes the student to not study their courses’ material as hard as they normally would, and that too leads to a decline in their grade (Gerdy, 2017). Not only does the student athlete often suffer from physical fatigue, but the constant threat of athletic injuries are a pressing issue as well. It goes without saying that a student who is an athlete has an increased risk of getting a head injury or concussion as opposed to a student who is not an athlete. Physical distress could, and very often does, distract from academics, and these types of distresses are completely avoidable.
There are students who attend college to cultivate both their mind and body. However, the differences in graduation percentages between athletes and non-athletes is far too substantial. With poor time management skills, student athletes are unable to balance their education with their preferred sport. If persistent, this behavior can lead to self-doubt in how well they perform in the classroom and on the field. Lastly, the immense amount of fatigue and physical stress they undergo can inhibit their performance overall. In the end, the 94 percent triumphs over the 88 percent, and for that reason, it is better to only focus on one thing at a time: academics.
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