Many American universities pride themselves on their beloved sports teams and their athletes. Intercollegiate athletics is what holds many campuses together, instilling traditions and discipline.

College also comes with an extensive academic load – and let’s not forget – stressful social life. Finding a balance for student athletes involves juggling all three, which can extend a heavy responsibility to such students.

Student athletes at Arizona State University discuss finding a balance between athletics and academics.

ASU is an NCAA Division I school, and participates in the prestigious Pac-12 Conference. Being a student athlete at one of the largest and most recognized Division I schools in the country comes with substantial responsibility.

An ASU rugby player and sophomore studying philosophy, Mark Saleh says, “At the highest level, we practice about seven times a week. It’s a pretty heavy load to carry on top of school work, but with good time management it is very do-able.”

Technically ASU rugby is a club team, instead of a true “varsity” team, Saleh said. Although, they still compete with some of the best in the country and at the highest level. The athletes remain high in the spotlight since ASU rugby placed third in the Pac-12 and 14th in the nation, according to the rugby team players. 

Long gone is the traditional stereotype of college athletes as the “dumb jock.” There’s more to the uniform than just good looks.

“One of the things I love most about my teammates is that they are mostly all pretty smart and hard-working guys,” Saleh said. “If you took a poll of the boys, you would find that a large percentage of them are in a ‘tough’ major such as engineering or business. Balancing school and rugby is tough but very possible.”

Saleh said he hopes to get into a good law school after finishing up his undergraduate studies.

Rugby player at ASU and sophomore studying political science, Matt Brennan says there aren’t very many weaknesses of being a student athlete at ASU.

“We maybe have a little less free time than most students,” Brennan said. “There are many benefits: we get to travel, we represent our school wherever we go, and being a part of this ASU Rugby family is something special. We have a very large group of alumni who support us.”

Brennan says for being a club team, they receive a lot of support from the university.

From getting private access to many of the school’s athletic facilities at certain times to receiving an excellent medical trainers staff.

ASU hockey player Edward McGovern said the resources provided to student athletes by the school makes it manageable to handle school work and time with practice and workouts. McGovern is a sophomore at ASU studying criminal justice.

McGovern said teachers are lenient when students are traveling due to hockey competitions. The players also get to choose classes early and get the chance to have first choice. 

“I wouldn’t say the school can do anything better, they provide us with everything we need to succeed,” McGovern said. “It is an honor to be part of the Division I hockey team here at ASU and it’s a dream come true being able to compete at this level and do it where I grew up.”

In the end, athletics and academics come in form of a privilege. Something to be handled with care and time-management.

“Not everybody gets to compete at a high level in the sport that they love, and I’m pretty thankful that I get to do it,” Saleh said.