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The Effect of Stress on College Student Athletes Versus Non-Athletes

By:   •  September 20, 2018  •  Research Paper  •  1,277 Words (6 Pages)  •  38 Views

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The Effect of Stress on College Student Athletes versus Non-Athletes

Stephen Collamore

Manhattan College

The Effect of Stress on College Student Athletes versus Non-Athletes

The start of college is a stressful situation for many students. Evidence has suggested athletes may experience more stress than non-athletes during the first year because of demands both of athletics and academics. Stress is defined as the negative feeling that occurs when an individual feels unable to cope with the demands placed upon them by their environment (Wilson & Pritchard, 2005). Common stressors for college students, starting from most common to least common, include changes in sleeping habits, vacations or breaks, new eating habits, increased class workload, and new responsibilities (Ross, Niebling, & Heckert, 2008). Stress can effect emotions, causing increasing emotional disturbances, and even anxiety. When this happens, the optimal level of learning and motivation decreases (Hebb, 1955). As a result of this decrease, stress can increase even more. For the student athlete, these demands may to start to become overwhelming. People can make the argument student athletes feel stress the worst because not only do they go through the stress of a normal student, they also feel the stress from fans and coaches for whom they are performing (McCleod, 2002). Because of these new stressors, student-athletes in college are perceived to have higher levels of stress than those students who do not participate in college-level sport.

This study replicates the methodology of the study Comparing Sources of Stress in

Wilson and Pritchard (2005). The study explores the different stressors college student-athletes faces compared to a regular college student. This study concentrates on calculating the total overall stress levels of the two student groups instead of the identifying the specific stressors for the athletes and non-athletes. In the study, four hundred students participated, two hundred were female and two hundred were male. Participants were grouped as athletes and non-athletes. There were fifty athletes and three hundred and fifty non-athletes. The study predicted that with the addition of the responsibility of being an athlete as well as a student, would affect the athletes and their stress levels differently than those of the non-athletes.

Method

The participants in this study were female (n= 200) and male (n = 200) freshmen students at a private, D-I Midwestern university. The students who participated in this study volunteered, and participants were taken from a freshman general education class at the end of the first semester of college. Participants were split into athletes (n = 50) and non-athletes (n = 350) groups. The athletes who participated in the study were on varsity athletic teams at the university.

Measurement

The study judged different stressful events that affect the average college students’ lives, such as, “Are you struggling to meet your own academic standards?” The student groups were asked to rate how much fifty-seven events have been a part of their lives in the past month on a scale from 1= “not at all part of my life,” to 4 = “very much part of my life.”

The findings of the study were restricted because the study took place at a small university that had its students uphold high academic standards. This may influence the sources of stress experienced by the average student-athlete, and more work may need to be done with these findings using different and diverse test subjects. This study was also not able to discover if differences in gender existed in the stress types in student-athletes; further studies need to take place to learn whether males and females experience the same kinds of stressors.

Results

The purpose of this study was to determine differences in the types of stress college student-athletes and non-athletes experience. The study found college student-athletes stress levels and sources of stress differed their non-athletic counterparts. For example, student-athletes reported more stress than did non-athletes in a wide variety of variables. Some of these variables were conflicts with a boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s family, t (359) = 2.53, p < .05, having a lot of responsibilities, t(357) = 1.96, p < .05, not getting enough time for sleep, t (357) = 1.98, p < .05, and heavy demands from extracurricular activities, t (359) = 8.81, p < .001 (Wilson & Pritchard, 2005). To contrast with the athletes, non-athletes reported more stress in areas such as financial burdens, t (357) = 3.27, p < .001, making important decisions about their education, t (357) = 2.03, p < .05, paying too much for services, t (357) = 2.43, p < .05, social conflicts over smoking with a roommate or friend, t (356) = 2.36, p < .05, difficulties with transportation, t(357) = 2.10, p < .05, social isolation, t (356) = 2.73, p < .01, being ignored, t (356) = 2.49, p < .05, and being dissatisfied with

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