In the Long run: The struggle is real

Michael Long, Sports Editor

Someone’s room can tell a lot about them. A quick glance around my room would show you the two halves of me. On one side, I have literally years worth of basketball shoes piled up, some dirty track spikes, a ton of dirty athletic clothes, my bag for weight lifting, my bag for school basketball and my bag for recreational basketball. The other side of my room is filled with notebooks, folders, schoolbooks, my school bag and my tangled chromebook charger.

All together, there is probably three square feet of my floor that is visible. This hectic mess is what I like to call the life of a student athlete.

A lot of people overlook the struggles of being a student athlete. They think playing a sport for school just takes a small amount of skill and that’s all. They don’t know about the insane amount of time that goes into playing a sport and the impact that it has.

Let me put it in perspective for those who think high school sports are not that time-consuming. Basketball season officially started on Nov. 10 and sectionals start on Feb. 27.

That’s roughly four months of basketball with practice or a game every day a week except for Sundays. Even during winter break, we still practiced almost that entire second week. That’s well over 80 hours of practice plus the 20 regular season games.

That’s just the half of it all. School adds a whole other wrinkle to this balancing act. We all know what it’s like to feel buried in school assignments, so to throw that on top of everyday practice is tough. Plus, if anyone reading this is like me and decided to take a couple AP classes, then you know the workload in those can understand how it’s challenging to get through it all.

This overloaded schedule definitely takes an impact on how I perform in both classes and athletics. Waking up at 6:30 every morning, going to weights class first or second period, practicing for at least an hour after school and then doing homework until midnight every day physically beats me to a pulp.

I’m tired nearly every second of every day. Just ask my fourth period teachers (that’s usually my nap period). This fatigue causes me to miss assignments, and, as of lately, perform poorly in games.

These struggles should not go overlooked. Based on personal experience, balancing classes and sports  can lead to an imbalance in the health triangle: physical, mental and emotional health, and the NCAA states that the stressful life of student athletes can lead to anxiety and depression.

However, I know that in the long run this stress will make me and other student athletes stronger, as it prepares us for the tough road ahead called life. But right now, some slight assistance would be just dandy. We are just young kids expected to excel in athletics and in the classroom but aren’t given any extra help to ease the pressure and high demands of teachers and coaches.

The pressures of being a student athlete also makes it nearly impossible to do other things like have a job, be in a relationship or do any other extracurriculars.

You may read this and think, “Why do you still play sports if it’s so stressful?” and honestly, that’s a darn good question. The answer is because the message of “Don’t quit,” or, “Never give up,” have been imprinted on my brain over the years of playing sports. It’s been imprinted into all student athletes’ brains, and it’s the driving force as to what gets me through the struggles of being a student athlete.