The term student-athlete has had its name run through the mud a bit recently in the basketball world. The trending upswing of one-and-done players in men’s basketball, as well as scandals involving schools doing player’s homework for them or paying athletes large sums of money to secure commitments, have tarnished the student aspect of being a student-athlete.
The student comes before the athlete for a reason, and I think people forget that along the way. The athletes themselves forget it, too. Right now, there is no pay for college athletes, so student-athletes’ payment is a free education at whatever institution they chose to bring their talents to. These scholarships cover school and room and board for four or sometimes five years. These scholarships are a great reward to kids who work their tails off from childhood to high school to earn that elusive scholarship.
Being a student-athlete is a taxing and demanding job, no matter how many perks other students believe we receive. I know thousands of students at the University of Utah and around the country face demanding jobs while attending classes. Managing a job or a family while in college or even just juggling a full course load is no easy task, student-athlete or not. Student-athletes do the same amount of work as other students, just with different deadlines at times. With the amount of travel involved in the season, arrangements are made with professors to turn in work either before or after travel. Student-athletes do not receive exemptions from assignments, only special accommodations because our involvement in sports is considered official school business.
I love being a student-athlete, but there are days when I wish I could focus on just my sport or just my schooling. I have personally debated choosing a not-so difficult major so I could more easily balance school and sport, especially during the season when every second week we are traveling for four days at a time for games. However, I chose what I wanted to do and I am so glad that I did. It was stressful at times during group assignments and exams, just like any other college student’s experience, but by the end of four years, I had a degree I was proud of.
Too often I see other student-athletes picking majors that have a lot of online classes or more flexibility so they can manage their sport and school better. The whole reason I worked so hard to earn a Division I scholarship was so that I could go to school and attain a great education. It’s important to remember that student-athletes face these tough choices of whether to lean toward having a degree they love or being less stressed during competition. The answer of what to do is not always so simple, but I am thankful that I was able to both excel in sport and get a degree I wanted.
Even though it’s hard to be a student-athlete, it has made me a better person and a better student. Being a student-athlete taught me time management, and that even if I have a busy schedule, I can still make time for what is important. Having a full day of classes, practice, treatment and homework served me better than having a day off to watch Netflix because I wasn’t allowed to procrastinate. If I knew I only had a couple hours at night to get my work done, then I would be focused and locked in to get it done. The slight stress of working under a deadline also worked well, because I face similar stress in basketball practice every day and that is what makes me thrive.
Scheduling has made a huge impact in my life and no matter how busy things get everyone gets 24 hours a day to make the most of. Being a student-athlete has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life thus far and I am thankful I got to do it at a great University like Utah.