Factors Impeding Academic Performance in Canadian Student Athletes


This study examines the various impediments to academic performance of Canadian university student-athletes compared to non-athletes. Student-athletes face unique challenges as they strive to balance the demands of both their athletic and academic commitments. Previous research indicates that several factors including anxiety (Petrie et al., 1995), alcohol and substance use (Leichliter et al., 1998), gambling (Huang et al., 2007), extracurricular activities (Adler 1985; Edwards & Froehle 2023), social experiences and relationships (Sedlacek et al.,1992), and sleep (Turner et al., 2021), can influence the academic performance of student-athletes. The current study used the 2019 Canadian Reference Group of the ACHA’s National College Health Assessment database. Varsity athletes (n = 2004) and non-athletes (n = 45,482) reported whether they perceived the following variables to be “impediments to their academic performance”: alcohol use, anxiety, depression, gambling, relationship difficulties, sleep difficulties, and stress. Chi-square analyses showed that student-athletes were significantly more likely than non-athletes to report alcohol use, gambling difficulties, and relationship difficulties as impediments, and were less likely than non-athletes to note anxiety, depression, and stress as impediments. There was no difference between the two groups with respect to sleep. Recent studies have proved the effectiveness of alcohol-related interventions for athletes (Cimini et al., 2014). However, there is a lack of research focused on gambling and relationship interventions specifically tailored to student-athletes. The findings of this study could aid in the development of applied interventions specific to student-athletes regarding issues of gambling, alcohol use and relationship difficulties.