Are Student Athlete Schedules Sustainable?

Alyssa Wheeler
January 27, 2023
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Between practices, lifts, games, classes,and life, are varsity sports schedules healthy?

In many people’s eyes, being a student athlete is something to take pride in. Playing competitively at the university level is a big achievement that not everyone gets the chance to do.

Universities take pride in their student athletes. They show this by offering scholarships, stadiums, and high level facilities, such as the High Performance Area at McMaster.

One of the biggest organizations that many sports teams at McMaster fall under, is Ontario University Athletics (OUA). The OUA brings in revenue on the basis of student athletes, and in 2021 the organization was able to make $60,017 in revenue.

Considering the amount of revenue being made, and the air of importance placed on student athletes by universities, it’s worth investigating what this experience is like for student athletes. A major concern that arises within a student athlete’s experience is their school to sport balance. To maintain eligibility, athletes at McMaster must stay in academic good standing with a minimum of 18 credits.

As the schedule of a full time student can be rigorous to many, the added lifts and practice time may compound this. The time spent on these tasks deduct the time that could be used for sleeping, eating, or even relaxing.

“It definitely takes a lot of discipline to stay on top of making sure you’re eating enough food for the amount your practicing and lifting especially in season, and it can be even more difficult to make sure you are getting to bed at a good time to allow your body and mind to rest when you are trying to balance school work and practices,” said 4th year McMaster soccer player Sara Vogel.

Games and meets may also use needed time in many cases. The time taken to travel to another school to compete in competition, or to compete at McMaster, takes mental and physical effort which can lead drainage.

A student athlete’s mental health is also something of great importance. For many sports, competition slots can be limited. The internal competition on a team can take a massive toll on student athletes, and can lead to poor mental health and self image.

“I think most athletes can admit that having the constant pressure, especially at this level, can get to yousometimes,” said Vogel.

“I think most athletes can admit that having the constant pressure, especially at this level, can get to yousometimes,”

Sara Vogel, 4th Year Mcmaster soccer player

Mental health issues can also become amplified when a student athlete already feels exhausted and fatigued from sport, as well as feeling the pressures to perform. Making sure these athletes are able to cope with these stressors can be crucial.

Nonetheless, there are many positives that come from university sports. An example of this is a sense of community that is amplified.

“My teammates are some of the closest friends I have ever had. It’s hard not to become friends with people you see everyday but some of the connections I have with my teammates is definitely more than that,” said Vogel.

Countless student athletes heavily identify with their sport, and build connections through it. These connections can be a stepping stone in future careers and endeavors.

The aspect of competition is also one which numerous athletes enjoy, one which consistently draws so many to pursuing university sports. Despite the fatigue that may come about with this competition, many athletes crave competition.

“I see competition more as an opportunity to be the best I can,” said Vogel.

A rigorous schedule doesn't necessarily have negative connotations either. Having these responsibilities can help students in learning skills that help to manage their time better, and thus may help them longterm.

“With the number of hours we put into practice, recovery, weight training, eating, sleeping, you have to be willing to dedicate pretty much every other minute of the day to school and other commitments,” said Vogel.

Overall, it seems as though the grueling schedule for athletes requires some give and take, and has many pros and cons. To succeed and thrive in something they love, student athletes teeter the line of sustainability on a daily basis.


  • Alyssa Wheeler

    Alyssa is in her third year of Human Behaviour and enjoys watching many sports, but finds herself mostly watching either soccer or basketball. As a new writer to the Sil, she’s excited to learn the ins and outs of McMaster sports. Outside of the Sil, you can find her at practice for the varsity women’s soccer team, begging a Starbucks employee for a pumpkin muffin, or trying to beat anyone she knows in FIFA.

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