How does playing sports impact classroom success for students at high levels?

Dominick Giudice


The academic success of college student athletes is a topic that is talked about at many levels across colleges. There are many thoughts around this topic. As a student athlete myself, I am able to see firsthand the success and failures from my own activities.

One of the first points worth noting is the fact that many believe that there is too much stress on sports within academic universities.

Literature reviews were put in place to study and better understand how student athletes are performing in school. The study aim is to set both sides of this argument about the student athletes success and talk about each of the arguments. This article argues for a need for proper resources to be in place in order for student athletes to do well in class. (Muñoz-Bullón, Sanchez-Bueno, Vos- Saz 2017).


The main goal of the literature review is to talk about the stress levels and academic performance of college student athletes. Being a student athlete creates a lot of stress. This review will find out the role that stress plays in their academic performance. The literature review will be able to take positive and negative information about the academic performances of student athletes. My approach in putting this together was where I started with a big set of searches on the topic. Then, I began to narrow the searches down to more specific sets of information to be able to get more and more useful results in the paper.

I first started searching for student-athletes and academic performance. This search produced 640,431 results on the University of Michigan library page. When looking at the titles of each article, I also made sure it included the words college, student athletes, and academic performance.

I also looked at the abstracts to find different articles that discussed both sides of this topic to further support my paper. These are located at the beginning of the papers and their purpose is to give an intro and overview to the reader about the main ideas of the writing.

After going through this elimination process, I had to cut out more than 30% of the articles that I had already narrowed it down to. The methods process helped me to be able to gain more insight and learn more useful information in helping me build this project.

Starting at the title, I moved to the abstract, and then skimmed the first and last sentences of each paragraph to determine what parts would have the biggest impact. The analysis was taken to see the impact and measure in a meaningful way the academic success and failure of the student athletes.


Throughout the literature reviews, there were many articles with ideas and points of discussions that went against each other. I was able to pull two main ideas from all these articles together and plan my paper. The first idea is that student athletes who take part and compete at the highest level of college sports have the opportunity to excel in the school. This is from all the life lessons that they have learned participating in their sport. Also, there is also a tremendous amount of support available to these same student athletes. Since these student athletes operate in a very structured environment and schedule with tremendous demands and time restrictions that are placed on them, this same structure can translate over into the classroom including the use of effective time management and planning skills and then allowing them to perform better in the classroom (Scott, Paskus, Miranda, Petr, McArdle., 2008). The other side of this argument is that because of the student athlete having to deal with the balance of both sports and school with greater freedom being on their own for the first time, this can also lead to lower performances. Also, the structure and planning that goes into their days on the sports side of their lives is all pre-planned and set up for them by someone else like their coaches and their academic advisors. Having a bit of free time after a hectic and exhausting day also can cause student athletes to procrastinate and push school work off. This can also increase their student athletes’ stress levels and can make the student athlete lose focus on school and choose one role over another, the sport of the student (Adler., 1985). These examples from the articles are little parts of all the research out there supporting the ideas to both sides of this discussion.

Results and Discussion

The most significant part of this research was to find the academic performances of student athletes. This is from both sides of information and the ability to draw out the cause and effect. The results were split. These performance standards were looked at in many ways to break down the results. This included the student athletes GPA, their grades, and their interest. One key finding was the ability to get the right people in place at an early stage of the collegiate career. Also, to assist and make sure the student athlete stays on top of what they need would produce more positive results. This also helps the student athlete identify and have an equal balance to be able to perform well in the classroom (Gaston, 2002). Yet on either side of this, there are always ways to make improvements for student athletes to perform and succeed in the classroom.

Aside from the normal course load in the classroom, student athletes have to deal with many other things that cause stress in college. Their athletic performance is seen as more important from outsiders looking in. A crazy and long schedule can cause stress and lead to taking attention away from the classroom. Lazarus and Folkman (1996) have said that stress is when an individual isn’t able to keep up with the demands required. For freshman student athletes, this can lead them to feel like they can’t keep up (Pritchard., Wilson 2005). This level of stress often becomes an issue when the student athlete feels like they are stretched too thin. They don’t have enough time between their sport and school, not only for a normal social life. From a study that was done, the researcher was able to imply that most athletes’ time is spent and focused on their athletic careers. This makes for little to no time to develop other important dealings in their life (Aquilina, 2013). These reasons can lead to the explanation of the low performance of the student athlete in the college classroom.

One research article discussed how a student athlete will do in school had six common and major themes, one of them being mental health (Chipps, 2019). A way to help so that mental health doesn’t affect a student athlete’s well being is having the resources to go to speak about how they are feeling and doing. If mental health is not taken seriously, it often has a negative impact in more ways than one including academic success. Having the help can allow someone to go from poor performance in the classroom and to doing well in academics and gaining a strong self image.


The main points were that there are many factors in student athletes’ academic performance. For example, the level of support given to the student athlete, the ability to feel comfortable and honest in seeking help, the student athlete’s GPA, mental health, and the levels of stress. They each work in their own ways to have an effect on academic performance. It will always end with ways to improve so that the student athlete can find ways to excel coming from low performance in the classroom. The topic had a big variety of information on it and it was fun to do the research.

After revising the script and reading my blog out loud, there were quite a few changes that needed to be made. The first observation that I received from others was that the paper sounded to academic. The problem of this was that it was supposed to be for a younger audience and has to be interesting enough to engage them to want to read this. To fix this, I was able to go through and see where there wasn’t personality in the writing and try to add that instead. Academic writing generally is just writing to one specific audience who knows information on what they’re writing about. Although here, writing a blog for younger students has to have the adjustment of including personality throughout the writing in order to be able to gain the audience’s attention and to keep it. Another important realization that I came to was the grammar of the words. There were too many words that when 2 peers and myself read didn’t flow and were too advanced. This made the reading stumble and not flow easily which isn’t how it is supposed to be when writing a blog. I fixed this problem by reading through it for a second time and thinking of simpler, easier to understand words that allows for the audience to read more efficiently and not be stumbled. Overall, this exercise helped to make the blog more appropriate for the audience to understand.

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