Student-Athlete? Please Define

Division-1 programs expect their athletes to do the unthinkable. Wake up at dawn. Work out. Go to class. Study hall. More practice. More homework. Repeat each and every day.

Although this schedule may be tweaked a little, the point is student-athletes have very limited free time, especially during the week. So, a social life? Spending time on things other than school or their sport? Where is there any time to do those things?

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen has recently come under a lot of scrutiny for his comments regarding just this very thing. A soundbite of Rosen’s comments the public is focusing on seems to throw some shade at one of college football’s powerhouse programs.

“Raise the SAT requirement at Alabama,” Rosen said, “and see what kind of team they have.”

Seems a little harsh on the surface, but listen to the statement immediately following.

“Look, football and school don’t go together, they just don’t. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs.”

In just that short statement, Josh Rosen perfectly described what’s it’s like to be a student-athlete. He’s saying it’s almost impossible to spend an adequate amount of time perfecting the two. He probably even mentions it’s not easy to be average at the two.

Maybe Rosen has a point. Maybe student-athletes really do struggle to balance a full course load on and off the field.

A few years ago, University of Florida football coach Jim McElwain tweeted out a graphic of a “usual day” for his student-athletes. The schedule reads as follows:

  • 6:00-7:00 a.m.: Wake up
  • 7:00-7:45 a.m.: Eat breakfast
  • 8:00-11:30 a.m.: Class
  • 12:00-12:30 p.m.: Eat lunch
  • 12:30-1:30 p.m.: Lift
  • 1:30-2:30 p.m.: Fuel and recover
  • 2:30-3:30 p.m.: Meetings
  • 3:30-5:30 p.m.: Practice
  • 6:00-6:30 p.m.: Fuel and recover
  • 6:30-7:00 p.m.: Eat
  • 7:30-9:00 p.m.: Study

Based on the graphic, the large majority of student-athletes don’t even get the option to take afternoon classes. And sleeping in? Completely out of question, as that would get in the way of their hectic schedule. What’s even worse is the hour-and-a-half block of studying that the athletes are allotted comes after a grueling 13-hour day.

Lucky them.

Whether it’s eating, working out, studying film/technique, or getting treatment, Division 1 athletes are devoting many hours per week in-season. According to CBS Sports, football players, basketball players, and baseball players are dedicating, on average, 43.3, 39.2, and 42.1 hours per week to their respective sport. The 42.1 hours per week baseball players spend working on their craft is 10.4 more than they reported to be spending on academics.

So, the toughest part of all this? Simply trying to manage their time. Athletes are expected to be on time (well, early) for everything they do. They’re expected to be up-to-date on their course work and be well-prepared for any tests/projects in class. Sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

Nick Saban even weighed in on the topic, agreeing it is difficult to balance both, but it’s well worth it.

“I mean every day, you’re making a deposit for your future and your chances of being successful for your future,” Saban said. “I think the difficulty and the sacrifice is well worth what it creates for a lot of players.”

It’s easy to ridicule student-athletes when looking at all of the resources they have available to them, but a majority of their hard work occurs behind the scenes. They have to constantly strive to fit time into their busy schedules, while going above and beyond to excel in everything they do. The public eye only sees the end result of what student-athletes contribute to the university.

A Division-1 athlete’s schedule coupled with a full-time block of classes? Not an easy thing to do. We, as a whole, should be more appreciative and sympathetic towards them.

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Avid sports fan and blogger who incorporates opinions and detailed statistics to further inform the sports world.