I constantly hear jokes from students (who are often not affiliated with athletics) about how stupid the student-athletes on campus must be – how they’re always sleeping in class or never know what’s going on. But just put yourself in their positions. Here are the reasons I’ve learned to have nothing but respect for college student-athletes:
1. They’re going to school full time and putting in so much time into practices and games/meets/matches that they are basically working a full time job.
Have you tried working part-time during college? It’s hard. Trying to juggle all the classes you have to study for, plus being in class and on top of that, going to work is NOT easy. As a student who usually is working 2 or 3 jobs at one time while taking a full-time student course load, I can relate. Student-athletes are basically working a full time job while going to school and are required to have a full workload with classes that actually count towards something, or they can’t compete either.
2. It’s tough missing class and still knowing what is going on.
Now just imagine having to miss a lot of those classes and still being expected to know all the materials perfectly and turn in the assignments BEFORE they’re due for everyone else before you leave for a road game. Most classes in the quarter system meet twice or three times a week – that means if you miss one class, you’re already 1/20th behind. Two classes? You might as well be taking it on independent study. Studying on the road is tough too, I know because I’ve done it. Between the two-a-day practices, games in and out, and unexpected delays on the road, you can’t really get anything done except for at night when you’re back in the hotel. And when you do get back, all you really want to do is sleep…
3. They’re pursuing their passion.
Athletes are often looked down upon because some of them aren’t really in college for learning about subjects taught in the classroom. Reality is, you’re right – they aren’t. They’re using college as a means to get to their ultimate goal of becoming a pro, just as many of us are using college to get the degree that will land us our dream jobs. Not to say that all athletes are only in college to play sports alone, there is a large chunk that knows how reasonable and responsible it is to get an education just in case their “dream future” falls through.
4. They were just as, if not more, clever than normal students are about getting into college.
Think about it. If you’re good at something, you want to highlight it and use it to your advantage. I worked pretty damn hard in high school and still didn’t get into schools I could’ve gotten into if I had just focused on my tennis a little more. Truth is, they are simply excellent in what they do and used that to their advantage. The world runs on specialization, everyone has his or her own knack for things.
5. They’re sometimes exploited, yet continue without any loss of focus towards their sport.
How many times have you seen the argument about whether or not football players should be getting paid for their personal images being replicated in video games? Student-athletes get used all the time — they can’t take money for anything really; but yet, companies are making millions off of them. Accidentally sign something that someone ends up selling on eBay? You’re screwed and now you can’t play because you broke NCAA rules. Those gear sponsorships you had before college? Drop them and wear all gear that you’re not used to playing in. Oh they paid you to wear their stuff? Sorry, the school can’t give you a scholarship and you can’t even play college sports anymore. So student-athletes are forced to keep their head downs and accept the unfair rules if they want to keep playing and doing what they love.
I am not a student-athlete and nor do I wish to be after I’ve personally seen how tough it is being one through working with athletics. But through my observations, I think it’s safe to say that I will never talk badly about those who bring in pride, prestige and revenue into our universities.