Being an athlete can be a full-time commitment. Between practice almost every day after school and games, it requires a lot of dedication and commitment.
However, being a student also takes a lot of time and effort. For student-athletes, the challenges they face on a day to day basis is having to balance their commitment to academics as well as athletics.
If any additional extracurricular activities are thrown in, these student-athletes can have a hard time keeping up with the pace of everything else. Focusing on one of these areas can lead to being in a time crunch with all their other activities.
While time management is critical to balancing these activities, no one realizes that balancing such full schedules leaves little to no time for the athletes themselves. When they don’t have time to themselves, they don’t have time to decompress. Without relaxation time, these students can experience burnout. Though not always the case, if burnout occurs in a student, it can take a serious toll on their functionality.
According to Webster’s dictionary, burnout can be defined as the mental or physical collapse of an individual due to reasons like overwork or stress. Burnout can vary by individual, and everyone, whether they’re an athlete or not, can experience it. Common symptoms include chronic fatigue, inability to concentrate, a weakened immune system, and increasing levels of apathy. Clearly, this slow-burning danger has several negative effects that can impact anyone. Due to constantly physically and mentally exerting themselves, student-athletes run a greater risk of experiencing burnout.
Athletes that are in an above average amount of difficult classes have it even worse. One such person is Ryan Gorman, a junior who’s taking classes like AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP 3D Art, and Dual Enrollment U.S. History, while also participating in cross country and track.
“I have practice every day after school for an hour, and two to three hours of homework on average,” said Gorman.
That means that Gormon spends about three to four hours every day after school on sports and school. This isn’t even including dinner, errands, or anything else that may pop up and disrupts Gorman’s schedule.
According to Gorman, he typically goes to bed around eleven at night. Considering the fact that school starts at 7:33 a.m. Steinbrenner students usually get up at anywhere from five to six in the morning. This gives Gorman about six or seven hours of sleep. While this isn’t as bad as pulling an all-nighter, the average teenager needs about eight to ten hours of sleep daily in order to function at their best.
This “sleep debt” builds up over time. If Gorman receives six to seven hours of sleep a night, and he needs eight to ten hours, he would average a loss of two hours of sleep every night. By the end of the week, he would have ten hours or so of sleep to make up, which would mean he loses ten hours of sleep a week. Though not terrible, the numbers add up.
Gorman isn’t the only overachieving student-athlete. Junior Jamie Miller is currently in five AP classes. Like Gorman, Miller also runs Track and Cross Country.
Similar to Gorman, Miller can often have a difficult time managing his schedule. Between practice and homework, it can sometimes be a challenge for him to get a good nights sleep. “I usually try to go to bed around 11, but I sometimes have to stay up late to finish a project. I’m usually pretty tired in the mornings, but I don’t think it effects school much,” said Miller.
Though it can cause exhaustion at certain times, Miller believes that taking more demanding classes helps students to learn to be a harder worker. It also never has a big impact on his school performance, even if it effects how much sleeps he gets.
For Miller, track is a more difficult time of the year. As a talented sprinter, Jamie often has a lot to manage with school during District, Region, and State. “It is so near to the end of the year that I usually have lots of projects and other work that’s hard to complete on time,” said Miller.
Though burnout is a very serious and difficult obstacle, if handled the right way, athletes can manage their time so that they can take challenging classes while still participating in the sports they love.
Aliya Leary // Staff Writer