High performance school-age athletes at Australian schools: a study of conflicting demands

Maureen O'Neill, Australian Catholic University

Abstract

This qualitative research study explores the various demands of high performance athletes who are still at school. There is an increasing number of such children in Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2009), and this means that these young people, under the age of 18, are engaged in two demanding, full-time ???lives???; that of being a school student and that of being a high level athlete. Three phenomena have resulted in a growing number of high performance school-age athletes. One is the increasing range and number of international sports competitions. The second is the younger age of many competitors, and the third is the increasing requirement in Australian educational jurisdictions for young people to stay at school until they are 17 years old. These high performance school-age athletes have to meet the demands and commitments of being both a full-time high school student and a full-time athlete; in essence, these young high performance athletes at school are trying to fit two lives into one. Thus, the study focuses on two factors; first, how these young people cope with their dual lives, and second, what are the models of schooling that may best support them in their endeavours.