The give and take of student athletes

Taylor Jackson, Sports Editor

We all know that being a student is hard work. We’re swamped with worksheets and essays night after night and stay up late to finish studying for that upcoming APUSH test that we’re positive is going to kill us. We complain about our messed up sleep schedules and have a morbid obsession with bragging over just how late we stayed up the night before. You know how it is.

Now imagine what it would be like if you had practice until five o’clock each night, games once or twice a week, and maybe a morning practice here or there. You’re staying up twice as late as your fellow scholars, and to top it all off you’ve got that pesky cramp that just won’t go away. There’s a definite give and take when you’re a part of a sports team, and many of the athletes’ peers don’t realize it.

While every student has a series of struggles and sacrifices that they have to deal with, student athletes have a special combination. Balancing practice and schoolwork is the hardest part of being a part of a team. To start, they have to learn early on how to balance schoolwork with their athletics, so as not to let themselves drop below the standard set for them. If even one F shows up on the student’s report card or their GPA for the semester drops below 2.0, they are on Athletic Probation (aka AP–but not the good kind) for at least two weeks—something an athlete definitely does not want. And with practices running until five or seven every night depending on the sport, that’s harder than it sounds. Going to bed at ten o’clock? Feeling rested and wearing something other than sweats the day after a rough game? Getting enough time to study for that test tomorrow? Sounds nice, but as a student athlete it probably won’t happen.

And those parties your friends are throwing on the weekends? Forget about it. Even if you don’t have another practice or maybe even a game on the weekend, you still can’t go if there’s any sort of drugs or alcohol present (which, let’s be honest, is fairly common at high school parties). It’s not just because of the ‘guilty-by-association’ law either; many times weekends are being used to catch up on the sleep that was lost while doing homework until one o’clock the other five days of the week, or just recouping from the game on Friday night that you’re gonna be sore from until next Thursday. It’s a vicious cycle, but one that a student athlete will gladly sacrifice for the sport that they love.

Now, with all that being said, one question remains: is it worth it?

Heck yes it is. As an athlete, we breathe, sleep and even bleed for our team and our sport. We put ourselves through excruciating conditioning practices voluntarily on the daily. If it didn’t mean the world to us, we wouldn’t do it.

I understand it well: with soccer one half of the year and track the other, I’m pretty well acquainted with the struggles and sacrifices that come with doing something that you’re passionate about. I’m not saying that other students with their own extracurriculars don’t have struggles and sacrifices as well, but the student athlete is one who can wake up bleary eyed on a Monday after weekend practices and bypassing hangouts with friends and still strap on their gear and get back at it.