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Where do Student-Athletes Face the Most Discrimination?

Posted on November 19, 2017 by Eileen O'Shanassy

Where do Student-Athletes Face the Most DiscriminationEvery child grows up dreaming of becoming a professional athlete. Although every dreamer has their own unique journey, at some point, every future pro holds the title of student-athlete in college. Being a student-athlete requires you to take on all the responsibilities of a traditional student, along with the demands of practicing and competing at a higher level. The life of a student-athlete has its perks, but it also comes with inevitable stressors and disadvantages as well. Discrimination is something most athletes will face at least once or twice and can be hard to get past. Here are few areas where you can expect to encounter discrimination during your academic career.


At some point in your academic career, you will encounter a teacher or professor who simply does not like athletes. Certain faculty members have a misconception that student-athletes are only there for their sport, and do not respect academics. They believe you are used to having things given to you and want to overcompensate by holding you to a standard higher than all other students. Be prepared to show your professor that you are there to learn, work, and be attentive so you create that relationship early and develop respect between both parties.

Job Recruiters

Most employers recognize the benefits of bringing a former athlete on staff. However, there will be those who view your inevitable lack of experience due to athletic commitments as a risk. Companies are looking to hire those who they believe can help their business and make them more money. They are looking for reasons why you will be a detriment as opposed to an asset, and being a student-athlete can make you an easy target. You will need to demonstrate how your soft skills, such as leadership, work ethic, and drive, will make you a valuable piece of the company and how you can directly translate these skills to help the company be more successful. If you are given less pay, or discriminated in some physical capacity in a job, you may file a claim that can help you receive compensation.

Family Members

This may seem like the most unlikely area to face discrimination, but you would be surprised how often jealousy can disrupt family dynamics. It only takes one angry uncle who thinks their child deserves the opportunity you’ve earned, for you to feel uneasiness. It could be as subtle as putting you at a disadvantage in a game, or as direct as some passive-aggressive comments about your school’s reputation in an attempt to put you down. Dealing with these feelings from family is tricky, and for the most part ignoring it will result in far less drama. But if the comments start to cross the line, don’t be afraid to defend yourself.

Discrimination can come from any area of life. Wherever you can find success, you will find a group of people looking to do whatever they can to find something to hate on. When you face these situations, don’t let the discrimination take away from who you are or what you’ve done. Continue down your path and proof to everyone that you can fight through adversity and come out a winner each and every time.


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