“How Do I Juggle Sport and School?”: Demands and Issues Voiced by Current and Former Australian School-age Athletes

By Maureen O'Neill, Angela Calder and Bill Allen.

Published by Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 7, 2015 $US5.00

This paper reports on the findings from, and considers the implications of, research into high performance school-age Australian athletes who balance dual commitments of sport and school. These young people struggle to lead two lives; that of a full-time school student and athlete (O’Neill Allen and Calder 2013). Theoretically they could be regarded as a being a ‘hyphenated’ individual”, someone struggling with more than one life (Fine and Sirin 2007). A comparison of these young peoples’ perspectives in balancing sport and study was established by in-depth interviewing nine current and ten former Australian school-age athletes across a range of sports and located across the Eastern states of Australia. Participants attended government, non-government and sport schools mostly on sport scholarships and excellence programs. NVivo 10™ matrix and compound coding queries were used to analyse the most acute demands and issues athletes had to juggle between dual endeavours of sport and study. Such issues of mindset (current athletes), unequal treatment and economic constraints (former athletes) were accentuated. Interestingly, athletes collectively identified the extreme demands placed upon them in balancing acute issues of: physical and psychological fatigue such as tiredness and soreness, lack of nutritional awareness, procrastination, bullying and social sacrifices.

Keywords: School-age Athlete, Perspectives, Juggle, Balance, High Performance Sport, Dual Lives

Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education, Volume 6, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.7-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 7, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 404.344KB)).

Dr. Maureen O'Neill

NVivo Consultant and Researcher, Office of Research, The University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia

Angela Calder

Lecturer in Coaching Science, Sport Sciences, The University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Qld, Australia

Dr Bill Allen

Senior Lecturer, Education; Deputy Academic Director, International Projects Group and Deputy Associate Dean (International and Engagement), School of Education and IPG, The University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Qld, Australia