Student-Athletes: Finding a Balance Essay

Student-Athletes: Finding a Balance Essay

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A student-athlete is defined as a participant in an organized competitive sport sponsored by the NCAA and the member institution at Division I, II, or III. Student-athletes cope with challenges and pressures as they try to find a balance between being a student and an athlete. Upon entering an institution, student-athletes are given the responsibilities of managing multiple roles. First-year student-athletes are expected to meet the demands of a college student in addition to those of an athlete in a new and unknown atmosphere. (Etzel, Ferrante, & Pinkney, 1996; Parham, 1993). The transitional experiences of a first-year college student paired with playing at a higher level of skill, concerns of injury, and dealing with conflicts among teammates and coaches add stress (Adler & Adler, 1987; Etzel, Ferrante, Pinkney, 1996; Miller & Kerr, 2001; Parham, 1993). The unique challenge for many student-athletes is to find balance between these dual roles and the pressures from coaches, teammates, family and friends, the institution, and the NCAA to perform well both on and off the field of play.
Student-athletes face many of the same pressures as their non-athlete counterparts academically. Many carry a full course load that is tightly regimented by someone other than them and they are unable to drop below 12 credits otherwise risk losing their NCAA eligibility. For many student-athletes the time they put into a sport is comparable to having a 30-40 hour a week job (Brown, Glastetter-Fender & Shelton, 2000; Schroeder, 2000; Simons, Van Rheenen & Covington, 1999). A student-athletes daily schedule (when in season) may consists of attending classes, practice, weight training, visiting the tra...


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... role conflict. Various factors help to influence the development of student-athletes include the athletic programs they are apart of. The conflicting demands on a student-athlete paired with the strength of their identity will influence how they identify as an individual and balance involvement on campus.
A majority of the current research on student-athletes is limited to the roles and experiences of Division I student-athletes. Further research should be conducted regarding college experiences of student-athletes at Division III institutions. Division III institutions pride themselves as having athletes that balance their role as student-athletes. I hope to be able to further investigate how student athletes construct their student-athlete identity, how they balance other life roles, and if there are differences in identity construction based on gender.

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