Pros and Cons of Becoming a Student-Athlete

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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Student-Athlete

We tend to put student-athletes on a pedestal. In high school, many see jocks as the “popular kids.” In college, they can even reach celebrity status, especially if they play football.

With all the hype, it’s easy to fall into one of two thought camps: either being a student-athlete is the best thing since sliced bread, or it has to be overrated. If you’re unsure which camp you fall in, check out these pros and cons of becoming a student-athlete.

Pros of Becoming a Student-Athlete

Health and Wellness

It’s not always easy to find time to exercise as a student. That’s why the “freshman 15” is such a common phenomenon. As a student-athlete, exercise is directly in your schedule and with a dozen or more accountability partners built-in with it.

Along with cardio and strength building, practicing a sport also has mental health benefits. The exercise itself helps increase your body’s production of feel-good endorphins while reducing the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Being on a team also gives you a much-needed social support network.

Scholarship Money

A true athlete doesn’t play for money but for the love of the game. On the other hand, getting a little dent taken out of your student loans doesn’t hurt.

The emphasis here is on the word “dent.” Only a few students in a few sports—football or volleyball, for instance—are awarded a full-ride scholarship. However, it’s still possible to get smaller scholarships and grants for various sports and at various schools, even if you don’t want to go pro. Just be sure you keep up your grades.

Cons of Becoming a Student-Athlete

Potential for Injury

Whenever you’re playing a sport, there’s always a higher chance of injury than there would be otherwise. Foot injuries, for example, are especially common in high-impact sports. Other common sports injuries include:

  • Brain injuries, like concussions
  • Achilles’ tendon injuries
  • ACL injuries
  • Repetitive stress injuries
  • Sprains
  • Broken bones

You can avoid injuries by warming up, cooling down, and wearing the right gear, and you can minimize the impact of injuries by stepping back and practicing self-care.

Time Constraints

Student-athletes may spend as many as 40 hours a week at practice or training for their sport. If you factor in class, homework, and a potential part-time job, that doesn’t leave much time for yourself. This can lead to a great deal of pressure that can cause you to feel stressed, anxious, and even depressed.

Balance is essential both to meet your commitments and take care of your headspace.

Should I Become a Student-Athlete?

Even after reviewing the pros and cons of becoming a student-athlete, there is no right or wrong answer to that question. Ultimately, it boils down to commitment. Are you passionate about being a student-athlete? If so, the work you put into it will be well worth it. And if you’re not, that’s fine too. The choice is up to you.

image credit: Adobe Stock

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