Fair or Foul: The Dilemma for Student Athletes


The University of Utah Volleyball team plays against Arizona State University in the Huntsman Center, University of Utah Campus, Salt Lake City, UT on Friday, November 1st, 2019. (Photo by Mark Draper | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Emily Dush, Sports Writer


This year has been one for the books, especially when it comes to college sports. One-half of the country is playing football and other fall sports, as if the world was normal, while the other half is barely starting their football season. Not only are football seasons being put on delay, but other fall sports such as soccer and volleyball have been pushed back to begin in the spring. This raises concerns and confusion among players, coaches and fans as to how rankings will work and if seasons will even be played. 

How are rankings going to work when so many conferences are late to begin? How are bowl games going to be decided? What does the eligibility look like for student-athletes like myself? Or our training? Will we even get a season? These are all questions that we student-athletes have asked ourselves, teammates, coaches and trainers with a hope that one day all of our questions will be answered. 

It is hard to see other athletes and friends in different conferences or schools being able to compete or practice in a more normal fashion. How is it fair that these players get to compete and become season-ready while other athletes don’t have the same resources or just started practicing? There is a great imbalance in college athletics, where conferences are competing as normal and others, such as the Pac-12, are not starting competitions until much later. 

As an athlete competing in the Pac-12, it is extremely difficult to scroll through social media or talk to friends in other conferences who are getting to play fall tournaments and compete as normal. They do not have to deal with the struggle of not knowing when the season will start. Or to keep training for a goal that seems so far away. They don’t know what it feels like to not have all the resources or lack of live game experience. Some sports don’t even know if a season will happen because it is contingent on the state they are in and how they are dealing with COVID cases.  

The question is, how can we make this fair?

Now, I’m not one hundred percent sure as to how the NCAA should handle a resume to play, because it is up to the conferences and schools. The universities and conferences know their own situation better and would be able to keep their athletes safe. However, I do think that there are ways to make it fair so that athletes over all sports are offered the same opportunities to compete. 

One way I believe this can be done is by making the fall sports play conference games in the spring and then come fall of 2021 they play a regular season. Rankings would be based on conference record. The fall sports in conferences that are currently playing could finish playing their season, while those teams who are unable to play this fall would have their seasons in the spring. This could help even out the playing field and make it fairer for athletes who are unable to compete due to their conference rules.

This can help provide answers to fall athletes who are currently just training and preparing to play their sport in the spring. Spring sports athletes who have fall as their “off-season” can prepare themselves for their season by finding ways to compete. The athletes can do this by entering unaffiliated competitions.  But the question still remains: How is this fair when other conferences are able to compete in live game competitions? 

All in all, it is not fair that certain schools and teams can compete while others cannot. It makes it difficult for athletes to stay motivated when competing seems so far-fetched. There is not much more student-athletes can other than train while others are able to play. While it is great for student-athletes to be able to train and do what they love in their team environment, athletes need to compete. Athletes are wired to take up challenges to push themselves. Currently, athletes are being pushed in a different way because they are not able to compete. This new challenge pushes athletes to be prepared for anything and to stay disciplined for when the time does come for them to take the field again whenever the occasion arises. 


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