We cannot emphasize the importance of sports and exercise to college and university students enough. Not only do these activities provide a ton of physical benefits but they also offer a vital mental outlet. Young adulthood is often characterized by routine exposures to both mental and physical difficulties. This is where all student-athletes fall under.
For collegiate (NCAA) student-athletes, things may be a little different. All students are usually subject to the same challenges and stressors. However, for college student-athletes, there is also the issue of the challenges related to a more professional, regimented environment, most notably in NCAA basketball and football leagues. Besides having to work through academic pressures, they are also supposed to meet the demands of various college athletic programs and this can have a huge impact not only on performance but even the Vegas odds on winning college games with further rippling effects outside of sportsbooks monitoring college sport athletes.
Studies have shown that all these additional challenges and demands may have serious impacts on the students. Perhaps the most notable impacts are that these student-athletes are at greater risk of experiencing both physical and psychological problems.
Concerns About Physical Health
Let’s start by breaking down one of the areas where there is very little understanding. Physical health for college athletes may seem to be an alarmist concept. After all, they are often perceived to be exceptionally healthier than students who rarely or do not participate in sports. While this is true, it does not stand all the time and it certainly does not apply to all the student-athletes.
Compared to the average college student, athletes face more personal and physical hazards. This will, of course, vary depending on the sport that they are part of. Injuries such as broken bones, strained muscles, and concussions are common among this group of students. Intense training or over training may contribute to this and so could the nutritional habits of the student-athletes. Drug and substance abuse also come up in several conversations relating to college sports.
The mental conversation has been around for a while and it is now more important than ever before. Sports can be very stressful for student-athletes. To begin with, they still have to deal with all of the challenges that young adults go through. They also get to bear all the pressures that come with being athletes. In many cases, they carry the hopes, aspirations and expectations of their family members, communities, schools and even their fellow athletes.
It gets even worse in the modern era of nearly limitless media coverage and social media. There is now intense pressure of managing name, image and likeness added to the already immense pressure to perform exceptionally well. This, in many, ways ties to some of the elements of physical health that we have mentioned above. Drug and substance abuse, for instance, may be a way for athletes to cope. Overtraining is also often a way for student-athletes to try and outpace some of the mental challenges. Either way, it is something that needs to be addressed.
Why Is Focus on These Factors Is Very Important?
As obvious as this may seem, certain elements are often overlooked when it comes to defining the importance of mental health issues. There are lots of reasons why both physical and mental health are key issues for collegiate sports in the modern era.
To begin with, they are key in achieving balance and fostering the growth and development of whole-rounded individuals. Student-athletes should be able to comfortably participate in other activities including academia. Previously, it was all about compromise and this inadvertently led to the physical health and mental health challenges that we are trying so hard to get away from.
Healthier individuals also mean better collective performance. This applies to both academics and the sporting activities themselves. Colleges and universities that pay attention to these student affairs often record impressive performance gains in the long run. Healthier is better. That should be the underlying motivator of the push for change. But how will that be done?
Reshaping The Distinct Culture of Collegiate Athletic Environments
Needless to say, intercollegiate sports are a very integral part of entertainment and culture in America as well as other parts of the world. It is, without a doubt, a very lucrative sector that lots of businesses have interests in. As such, it has become increasingly clear that the potential for financial gains that come with programmatic success may be a problem. That is simply because it may have overshadowed concerns about student-athlete welfare.
Reshaping and restructuring various aspects of collegiate sports is thus one of the best ways to move forward. We can already see several efforts to champion this. More focus on student-athlete participation-induced health issues is a great starting point. This same amount of focus should also be channeled towards addressing student-athlete lifestyle demands.
What Is the NCAA Doing?
In the United States, no name is as synonymous with college sports nearly as much as the NCAA. Since it was founded, the organization has dedicated itself to protecting student-athletes and fostering growth in a sector that is loved by millions of Americans. Thanks to its Sports Science Institutes, it has been able to deliver on many of its promises. Still, there is always room for improvement.
Some of the NCAA’s key emphasis has been on collaboration for best practices, ensuring independent medical care and discouraging alcohol and drug abuse. To make these initiatives as effective as possible, it has partnered with reputable organizations. All of them have contributed immensely and we can already see the fruits of these efforts across the collegiate athletics landscape in the United States.
Mental health is also receiving a fair share of attention. It remains an area that needs to be looked at from different lenses but the goal is the same. Ensuring that collegiate athletes can be their best selves all comes down to their mental well-being.
Bright Future Ahead
Sports had for a long time been about grit and immense sacrifice. These are, however, not compromises that mean a lot in the modern era of sports betting. Championing for healthier and more wholesome participation opens new doors for what the future of all sports could look like. The fact that it has started with student-athletes makes it a very worthwhile course. They are, after all, the future professional sportspeople and thus having them in their best will be very important.