Friday, January 24, 2014

College Athletes

            We all have our own unique perspectives in life.
            Well, you’ve gotten your profound statement for the day, you can go home now.
            But really, I’m going somewhere with this.
            I’m not talking about we look at something factual and decide to hold our own opinions regardless. What I’m speaking of is that where we’ve come from, what we’ve been through, and how we’ve gotten to where we are at each gives us a unique way of looking at things. And THAT isn’t a bad thing at all.
            I could drone on about this, but I want to use it to springboard into what I feel led to write about today. I personally have been a huge sports fan for my entire life. I have dabbled with various ones, eventually settling on soccer to play. I love to play various ones, will try anything, and will most definitely watch anything. It is a small wonder that I am a Sports Business major.
            Having a life-long love of sports has allowed me to have a greater appreciation for those involved in them. I know that there is no sport that is easy to master; some aren’t even easy to learn. I still enjoy a good pick-up game of soccer or basketball, but there is a reason that I am playing pick-up games and am on an academic scholarship.
            I have a tremendous amount of respect for the athletes that have the talent to play on to the next levels past high school. Often athletes in high school are seen as popular people- while this is often the case, those that are good enough to play in college usually had little time to capitalize on the popularity they had. Not only did they have practices and games (or matches, or meets, etc.) for their school team, they also likely had another team they played for or played multiple sports. They had recruiters to worry about and had another added level to their college decision.
            Schedules in college aren’t easy either. During the season there are daily practices for several hours and games that aren’t any longer an hour or two away, but can be across the country. Missing classes is a somewhat regular occurrence. Even during the off-season, conditioning and workouts are usually early in the morning and still take up a lot of time. Add on study tables and public relations events as well. College is stressful for anyone, but such a schedule must have extra stress still involved.
            “But they get scholarships to reward them for that.” To a point. At the Division I, college athletes only have full-ride scholarships provided in football and basketball. And I’m not sure that that’s mandatory. In every other sport, a certain amount of scholarships are allotted that can be split between all the athletes. So many athletes do not get their tuition paid for- sometimes not even close. And this for a busy schedule that makes it very hard, if not impossible, to work.
            So what’s the point of writing this? There is a certain view of college athletes among many people, even among college students. They think they are stuck up or that they think they are too good for everyone else. I won’t make a sweeping denial of this, because I will not go to the level of the afore-mentioned attitude. But at my college (Northern Kentucky University), I have never met an athlete that has acted this way. Are there some that are? I’m sure there are, because they are normal people, and some people are that way.
            Athletes at this level sacrifice a lot for the program. I am not at all saying they should be pitied. They get a certain celebrity status and get to play a sport they (hopefully) love at the next level. That is a rare opportunity. But they are no different than the rest of us; they simply have more athletic talent (though if the basketball or soccer team wants to test that sometime, I’d be down) to be able to wear our colors and put their best effort forth for our schools. Just like how any of us have our strengths; these are just more conspicuous.
            There is no reason college athletes should be treated any differently. I would bet you nine times out of ten if you talk to one of them, they’d be more than happy to have a conversation. As an aspiring agent, I enjoy talking to and getting to know them.
            And it is easy to blame them for losses, but remember, a lot goes into making a team. Even if they make a mistake, know that we all do, and that these aren’t pros on the TV, these are your peers (or adults, these are barely adults). As long as they put their best effort forward with pride in their school, what do we have to complain about?

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