‘Spillane on Sports’ Column: Student athlete time management


At universities around the country, student athletes are seen on game day running onto the field, diving into a pool, shooting a basketball or pitching a baseball. However, they are often not watched by outsiders in practice when they are really putting in the hard work that makes their game day performances so memorable.

Moreover, they are less likely noticed in and out of the classroom working on their academics. It’s not all about sports. There is the “student” part in student athlete.

The difficulty in balancing sports, academics and social life can be a challenge for Lehigh athletes.

Brendan Spillane

“It can be very difficult to balance the three and get a sufficient amount of sleep,” junior high jumper Courtney Avery said. “Most of the time you’re only capable of prioritizing two, which in my case is academics and athletics. But if you make a schedule and are disciplined when it comes to following the schedule you can have time for all three.”

Although Lehigh does not release hard data on grade-point averages of athletes and non-athletes, the comparison is made clearer through the study of the College Sports Project study, which analyzed the grade-point averages of 83,728 students from 84 NCAA Division III colleges and universities.

The results showed that a male recruited athlete has an overall 2.84 GPA, compared to a male non-athlete with overall 3.04 GPA. Males seemed to have a larger difference in the overall GPA between athletes and non-athletes than females. For a female recruited athlete, the overall GPA was 3.18 as compared to a female non-athlete, whose overall GPA was 3.24. The College Sports Project did focus on Division III universities. However, there are multiple studies done at Division I individual schools where the results are very similar.

In my opinion, it doesn’t make sense to say that men’s sports are harder than women’s. So then based on the study, why are GPAs so much lower for male athletes than female athletes?

There is a theme in the education system in the U.S. in which females are achieving higher academic standards than males. In a study conducted by the Russell Sage Foundation, women across the country are found to have a higher high school GPA and more master’s degrees compared to males.

Lehigh’s athletes have a lot of responsibilities to balance throughout their day-to-day lives at college. Although academics and athletics seem to be the most important parts of a Lehigh athlete’s day, the social aspect of college should not be forgotten.

Social life is a very important part of the college experience because it allows you to create lifelong relationships. The Princeton Review ranked Lehigh as a top 10 party school in both 2014 and 2015. Some people might question whether or not a big time party school would have an effect on the difficulty of time management for student athletes.

However, this doesn’t seem to be the case at Lehigh.

“The balance would be just as difficult at another school because our team and most teams have specific social restrictions during our season that prevent us from going out when have practice the next morning or a meet the following day,” junior swimmer Justin White said. “We also have dry season for a month where we completely cut the social aspect out of our lives to focus on swimming at championships.”

The difficulties of time management for athletes seem to extend across the country at all universities. However, other students sometimes do not understand and respect the amount of work Lehigh athletes put into both academics and athletics.

“Non-athletes don’t understand the physical pressures of being an athlete here at Lehigh,” White said. “As rewarding as it is to be a part of Lehigh Athletics, it’s also incredibly taxing and draining to the point where one couldn’t really comprehend unless they have experienced it themselves.”

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