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The cost of being a student athlete; more than just monetary

Mitch Lebovic

Mitch Lebovic

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5.5% of all high school students play a sport. This means that these students must balance school and their sport. There are many types of expenses that fall on these student athletes such as financial, physical, emotional, educational, and even mental expenses. These expenses cause these students to wonder if playing the sport is worth the toll it takes on them.  

In most situations students are told to put their studies above their sports, which causes those students to do better in school in order to play the sports they love. At Patterson Mill High School, if a student is failing a class, then that student will be ineligible to play. However, students can get an appeal that will allow them to play their sport with close monitoring of their grades. The idea of being a student athlete helps push students to put their studies first, or else risk being ineligible to play.     

One of the biggest expenses that student athletes face is financial in nature. Savannah Harrison, a sophomore at Patterson Mill, plays softball and says she spends between three hundred to four hundred dollars to replace her equipment every couple of years. She says, “Since I’m a catcher, I need not only a regular batting helmet and a bat, but also shin guards, a chest protector, and a catching helmet.” Some athletes also take coach recommendations into great consideration when deciding what equipment to buy and if they should replace their existing equipment. Along with financial expenses, Savannah offers up most of her time to her sport because she practices six days a week and plays for two different teams. Regarding her academics, she said that “for away games, we get home late sometimes and then I have very little time to do homework and I fall behind.” The large time commitment causes her to struggle with keeping up with her studies.  

Another student at Patterson Mill, Paula Moon is a sophomore and plays golf in the fall. Similar to Savannah, Paula says that she spends around three hundred dollars on clubs and other equipment. Paula faces some of the same problems as Savannah in that they both must make sacrifices in their academic lives with balancing their schoolwork and their sport. Mentally, they both struggle with the pressure that is being placed on them whether it comes from their own standards or from outside sources. For Paula, she gets pressure from her dad because “he expects a lot from me and wants me to go to college for golf.” This can create added stress within the life of a student athlete. For Savannah, she says that, “I am very hard on myself and, in my opinion, if you’re going to play a sport even, if you’re not very good, you should want to be the best and strive to be successful.”

Players aren’t the only ones that are suffering from sport expenses. Coaches experience some of the same problems that players do when it comes to balancing their responsibilities, especially coaches that are teachers as well. Ms. Bennett is one of Patterson Mill’s science teachers and coaches cross country in the fall and track in the spring. She has been coaching cross country for three years and track for two years. Ms. Bennett has found that, over the years, it has been getting easier for her to balance teaching and coaching. She just has to make sure that she,”finds an activity that still gives the students the full benefit, even if I leave a half an hour early.” She also practices alongside her athletes so that she can “practice what [she] preaches.” Ms. Bennett believes that “there is no coach in Harford County that does it for the pay.” Even if the bonus is helpful, most coaches coach because they like interacting with their players.  

Overall, being a student athlete can be as challenging as it is rewarding, it just depends on the students involved. As long the students put their studies before their sports, the experience can be worth the struggles. However, some students struggle due to the large time commitment and physical responsibility. These struggles can create large problems for student athletes if they begin to blow off their schoolwork to make a practice or game. Student athletes can also experience massive pressures put on them, not only to perform well in their sport, but in school as well. These pressures can be overwhelming for some student athletes if not handled properly. For the most part, being a student athlete is a large balancing act that needs to be closely managed to prevent the risk of failing both school and sports. 

This shows Savannah Harrison (10) running home at the scrimmage game against Patapsco. The Huskies won this game and have been doing their best this season.

Mitch Lebovic

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The cost of being a student athlete; more than just monetary