Supporting High Performance Athletic Students Balance Sport and Education: An Examination of the Teacher’s Role
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The demands placed on high performance student athletes (athletes who perform at a competitive level) continue to intensify (Conzelmann & Nagel, 2003) and finding a balance between athletic and educational responsibilities can be a significant challenge (European Commission, 2004). When students are unable to find a balance between their athletics and education responsibilities, they run the risk of decreased performance in at least one of these areas. I decided to complete qualitative research that examined the role that teachers play in supporting high performance athletes in balancing sport and academic responsibilities. I discovered that limited research has been conducted on the role that teachers play in supporting high performance athletes with their sports and academics. The research indicated that various aspects could influence high performance athletes’ inability to balance their sports and academics. My research examined how private secondary school teachers promote and support a more balanced orientation to athletic and academic development; ultimately, aiming to provide valuable information to teachers on how to do so. This research was conducted through a two-phase, qualitative study. The first phase involved individual interviews with three teachers and three student athletes. The second phase involved paired interviews with the same student athletes and teachers. Three core themes emerged from this research related to teachers’ support for high performance athletes: (a) flexibility, (b) relationship, and (c) support. With the application of these three themes, it is believed that teachers can better assist student athletes in balancing their athletics and education, which will result in a positive outcome in both areas.