Most athletes sustain injuries from time to time.
Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images
The rewards of an outstanding athletic career can include college scholarships, admiration from fans and other athletes, access to lots of social opportunities and valuable career opportunities such as going pro or playing in the Olympics. But if such an undertaking were easy, every athlete would do it. The best athletes make daily sacrifices that range from tiny to massive.
Loss of Time
Becoming a stellar athlete requires lots of practice and conditioning, and this takes time. According to CBS News, a 2011 National Collegiate Athletic Association Survey found that student athletes train between 25 and 45 hours per week. This is time athletes could spend with friends, studying for classes, sleeping, traveling and engaging in a wide variety of other pursuits. Moreover, the time spent training can leave athletes feeling exhausted. This exhaustion may cut into athletes' ability to enjoy their downtime.
Loss of Physical Well-Being
Constant training can lead to pain and overuse injuries, and sudden accidents such as falls can give rise to sprains, strains and broken bones. Most athletes experience at least minor injuries, and many more suffer from occasional muscle pain and fatigue. Even after an athlete leaves her sport, she may continue to struggle with the pain of long-term injuries. All athletes risk sacrificing their long-term physical well-being.
Participation in a sport requires strong physical fitness and a healthy body. Maintaining proper nutrition, though, can undermine a host of popular social activities. Athletes may not be able to drink alcohol with their friends the night before a game. Athletes need plenty of rest and a healthy diet to be at peak performance. This means athletes may have to forego late-night parties and steer clear of sessions spent gorging on cupcakes or cookies.
Even at the lowest levels, being an athlete costs money. From paying for lessons to investing in supplies, athletes -- and their parents -- can shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year. At the collegiate and professional levels, the expense is diminished or completely eliminated, but beginner-level sports are rarely free. This means there's a high buy-in cost for the chance at a successful athletic career.