It’s rare that a student-athlete ever wakes up and says, “What am I going to do today?” because their schedule is practically the same every day. A typical athlete’s day looks like this: go to class(es), excel in a 2-3-hour practice, lift weights, complete a recovery session, go to study hall, then go to bed. As an athlete, off days feel very weird to me because I have all this extra time on my hands and no idea what to do with it. However, staying on a schedule helps to keep me focused and have my head on straight when it comes to important things.
One of the best parts of being a student-athlete is the traveling. Road trips are fun. Whether it’s a flight, or a long bus ride, having the opportunity to travel around the country and maybe even the world is as unique as it is exciting. From week to week, the traveling could be to a big city, or a small town that I’ve never heard of. Some people have never left their hometowns before, and being an athlete has opened my eyes to so many other places.
In addition, the Spartan Academic Support Services, also known as SASS, helps student-athletes excel inside and outside of the classroom. They provide tutoring, study hall, and academic coaching for athletes who need that extra help with school work. SASS has also helped student-athletes prepare for the real world when their time at UNCG comes to an end. A program called Game Plan helps teach students about writing a resume, preparing for a job interview, and also helps with other important things of that nature.
The Athletic Training room is specifically designed to help student-athletes stay physically healthy. Athletic trainers are equipped with the machinery to treat any kind of injuries that athletes may face. Several STEM machines, suction cups, a cold and hot whirlpool, compression boots, and many more tools aid the trainers to get athletes back into playing condition.
Lastly, being a student-athlete is like being a part of a big family. Not only do you and your teammates feel like family members, but all teams are part of one big modern family. Women’s teams support male teams, and vice versa. Fall sports support winter sports, who together support spring sports, but in all, each team supports each other. Athletes understand each other more than a regular student, because we all live similar lives. Our sport is our life. We love what we do, and we support those on the same journey as us.
There are, however, some cons. The same, rigorous schedule everyday can be a good and a bad thing. You’re not afforded much “me time”. You’re busy from the second you wake up to the second that you go to bed, every single day. It’s rare that you can attend campus events with all of your friends, because nine times out of ten, you’re either in practice or having an away game.
As a student-athlete, you are also kept to a higher standard than other students. You represent more than yourself. You represent your team, your family and the university as a whole. Many athletes have gotten into trouble, whether that be academic violations, drug abuse, compliance issues, etc. Not doing what you’re supposed to do could be detrimental to your program and to the school as a whole. Schools have lost championship banners because of players breaking rules.
In addition, your average students have the opportunity to balance being a student and having a job. Besides going to class and doing homework, they have much more time on their hands. As an athlete, without having that extra time, it’s hard to be able to make an income for yourself. Players still need to be able to feed themselves, get their hair done, find outfits for formal events and put gas in their vehicles for when they want to go home and visit their families. These rudimentary responsibilities are much harder to do without having some kind of income. That is why many people are fighting to have the NCAA pay their student-athletes because people are making money off their hard work, but the athletes do not see any of that money come to them.
Lastly, sacrificing your body to a sport everyday can be very difficult to deal with. It’s physically draining because of practices and weights, and running across campus to be on time to class, and who knows if players are getting an adequate amount of sleep? Being a collegiate athlete can be detrimental to their mental health as well. College itself is stressful enough, but adding being an athlete can make that load 100 times tougher. Managing keeping your body healthy, expectations from coaches, maintaining an adequate GPA, having a social life, and resolving any personal issues could all together affect an athlete’s mental stability. Between all that, being a student-athlete is a demanding life, both physically and mentally, that can still be rewarding in the long run.