When I was in high school I worked for my town’s local newspaper. During the summer I mainly sat in the office answering phones and typing obituaries (not even as fun as it sounds). But high school sports season was when the fun really began. I covered basketball, baseball, softball, tennis, track meets—pretty much every kind of sporting event you can think of. Most days, by the time I got home from school at 4, all I had time to do was make dinner, eat and head to whatever game was on my schedule.
Some nights I wouldn’t get home until after 10 p.m. Then it was time to write the story and pick the best photos for publishing. It was then and only then that it became homework time. Sometimes that was 11 p.m. Sometimes I wasn’t so fortunate.
It wasn’t too hard to worry about how little time I had to get everything done most nights, especially since I had to wake up at 5:30 every morning to catch the early bus to school. But then I thought about the athletes I was writing about. How much crazier must their schedules be? They were taking the same classes I was, plus their time was taken up with games and practices. Sometimes I barely got all of my work done. How did they do it?
Then my journey took me to college at Indiana Wesleyan University, where I continued to cover sporting events. Once again, I became overwhelmed with my responsibilities as a writer and full-time student all at once. Once again, I saw firsthand how challenging being a student-athlete is. I had classes with athletes, I got to know athletes; I became friends with athletes. It really is a full-time job. Then throw in a major, or maybe two. Where does sleep fit into a schedule like that? Some athletes at IWU even dare choose a major like nursing to go along with their sport. Now we’re just getting crazy.
Think about this: An athlete who plays just two games in a week and practices just one hour a day has basically taken on the load of two additional three-credit classes. And that’s just at a bare minimum.
It doesn’t take a whole lot of thinking to realize just how impressive an accomplishment it is to be a collegiate student-athlete. The amount of time it takes each day to keep up with studies as well as speed, reading as well as running and papers as well as perseverance is enough to make even the most organized student start reaching for fistfuls of hair. Yet every year, IWU and countless other universities see dozens, if not hundreds, of students accomplish this impressive, yet undervalued feat.