Student-athletes’ above average stress levels

     Students have stress on a day-to-day basis about school, friends and outside activities. Homework takes up a lot of time for students they need to take out of their schedules in order to finish what they need to do. Student-athletes, on the other hand, don’t have this kind of time to take out of their schedules when they have practice or games after school which can take a lot of time. After those events, they need to shower, eat and rest in order to be prepared for their sport the next day. With all this time taken out of their schedule for sports, it is substantially more stressful when school is put on top of their worries.  

     Schools tell student-athletes that their grades come before anything else, yet they still put pressure on students to work hard in their sport for their schools. 

     In an article called Why Are So Many Teen Athletes Struggling With Depression by The Atlantic, high school cross country coach and freelance sports writer Linda Flanagan said, “Nearly half of American youths struggle with a mental illness before turning 18, while 12 percent have experienced a bout of depression.” Although American youths do face struggles with mental illness, it can be highly affected if they play sports. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) student athletes have reported feeling anxiety. Around 30% of women and 25% of men in sports and schooling have reported feeling anxiety. Many of these mental illnesses come from a lack of sleep, stress and pressure. Athletes face all of those issues every day when they have to worry about not only school but also sports.

     As someone diagnosed with depression and anxiety, sports and school often fill my head and distract me from my mental health. Sometimes I find myself digging a hole that I’m trapped in because of how much stress is put on me to get good grades, to succeed in my sport and to do everything all at once. I find that I get little sleep most nights because of the time that I take out of my day to get all of my work done, and I feel mentally and physically exhausted throughout the day which plays a role in how I perform in school and my sport. 

     Many student-athletes rely on their sports to get into a good college with a scholarship. Their grades are affected by the amount of time dedicated to their sports, but many student-athletes have a higher grade point average (GPA) than non-athlete students. According to a  study done by Mandi Derryberry to see the difference in GPAs of student-athletes compared to non-student athletes found, “The average GPA of student-athletes was 3.56, while the average GPA of non-athlete-students was 3.40.”

     Student-athletes often have to work for harder scores in classes so that they do not become ineligible for their sports. With such little time to get work done, it can still be difficult to maintain grades when also having to do a sport. But with this extra stress put on them to have higher grades so that they can play their sports, it is really detrimental to their mental health.

     As a year-round student-athlete, I find it difficult to turn in homework on time when I am bombarded with practices, games and physical activity. Not only is it mentally draining to have so much going on at once, it is also physically draining. Having to work out every day and going to bed late at night causes a pile up on my mental health, and if there’s another stress factor added on top of that, it is easy for me to snap and have a mental block that causes me to struggle to do my schoolwork and leads me to get behind in class. 

     Injuries stunt mental health when student-athletes are playing. Senior Avery Ackerman tore her meniscus (pieces of fibrocartilage in the knee) her junior year while playing basketball. “I’ve been playing basketball since I was five, and suffering from an injury that put me out of sports was really tough on my mental health…I was really stressed out during that part of my life because basketball was a form of coping for me,” she said. Injuries and setbacks in sports can add to the stress of student-athletes while most non-student athletes are less likely to be injured. This shows that student-athletes face a lot more stress because of the amount of physical stress that can be put on their bodies. 

     According to the National Library of Medicine, student-athletes have a healthier lifestyle and overall better health then their non-athlete peers. Although this can be true in some cases, because of the physical factor that can be boosted from sports, there is still significant evidence to show that student-athletes are comparatively more overwhelmed with stress. While athletes may have a healthier lifestyle because of the physical activity they experience every day, this exercise not only causes stress on the body it can also cause athletes to have more stress than the average student because of their extreme levels of activity.

     Stress is a part of almost every student’s everyday life, but student-athletes are put through much more stress throughout their days. As someone who has played sports throughout my life, there is an immense amount of stress put on me to succeed in not only my sport but also school. To fix this issue, I feel like student-athletes should have more time to finish their work due to the amount of time taken out of their day for their sports. If I had more time to work on my homework or on tests I would feel a lot less overwhelmed and could succeed in both schoolwork and my physical activities.