We’ve all been there. In the morning announcements at the start of third period, you are told that the swimming team won the PSAL City Championships for what feels like the hundredth time. You roll your eyes, much more concerned with the upcoming lesson. Awesome.
Most of us simply just don’t think about how difficult it is to be a successful student-athlete.
However, all students are familiar with the Stuyvesant workload. In the quest for straight A’s, students study and do homework for hours every night, often remaining awake into the wee hours of the morning.
Imagine having to deal with this while regularly coming home at 8:00 p.m. or later, and being physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. This is what the average student-athlete’s week is like. It’s all the pressures of a Stuyvesant workload along with 15-30 hours of physical activity to top it off.
But in order for Stuyvesant sports teams to achieve success, this is the amount of time athletes need to put in. Our athletic programs do not have the luxury of recruiting natural talent, and if our teams want to be competitive amongst other New York City high schools, the members have to work hard for it. There is no handicap in the PSAL because we go to Stuyvesant. Here, strong performance is built on hard work and preparation, and these things take time.
On top of a Stuy workload, competing may seem a near-impossible task. Hours that could otherwise be used for studying are instead spent practicing or playing games, and either an intense form of super-genius or extra waking hours are required to account for both activities. Staying up late may help athletes make up schoolwork, but when nobody can be so exhausted that they can’t perform for their team,it seems like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Nevertheless, many members of the Stuy community find the balance, and they rarely earn any form of recognition.
That’s not to say that student-athletes do not struggle with managing what little time they have. No matter how hard you work, it’s going to be awfully difficult to ace a test when you have a packed after school schedule. One thing the administration should consider is allowing student- athletes to opt out of having a physical education class during their season. This would allow for an extra free period during the day that could be used to catch up on studying, at little loss for the athletes. After all, the physical activity provided by participation on a sports team more than makes up for two to three 41-minute periods of gym a week. Policies like this are in place at many New York City schools with strong athletic programs, and they can be a huge aid in time management.
As we currently do not have a system like this in place, athletes also deserve the extra attention of college admissions officers. As athletes are forced to work under harsher time constraints than most students, it is only logical that their GPA’s will be lower than if they had the extra time to put in studying. I don’t see a need for a systemic overhaul here, but it’s logical that students who have shown commitment to teams should be cut a little more slack by admissions officers in terms of leniency regarding grades.
If calling for administrative assistance seems a little radical, it would sure be nice to see athletes respected a little more by the student body. Despite everything Stuyvesant has going against it in the realm of sports, its athletic program actually does quite well and produces some of New York City’s most talented student-athletes. Yet, all we have to show for it are those nice little trophy cases outside the third floor gym that nobody stops to look at. Our athletes, for doing all that I have mentioned and more, deserve so much more respect than is given to them.
Even the smallest amount of recognition would be nice every once in a while. So take this all into consideration, and maybe the next time you hear that championship announcement over the PA system during third period, you’ll be a little more impressed.