Student athletes tend to have many responsibilities in addition to the academic obligations that all college students already face. I have known student athletes to have mandatory weight lifting and running at 6 o’clock in the morning in order for the team to meet at a time that would not interfere with classes. Oftentimes practices are held every day for multiple hours each day. During the sporting season, students tend to experience heavy travel for games, keeping them away from school for several days. So how does a student athlete maintain good grades if they don’t have the time to dedicate to academics?
Colleges tend to provide student athletes with various resources to assist with the balance between their sporting careers versus their academic careers. Because only a very small number of collegiate players end up playing a sport professionally, it is essential that they are also prepared for a life outside of sports. Virginia Tech has a resource titled the Student Athlete Academic Support Services (SASS). These services provide student athletes with tutors, studying assistance, and academic skill development programs (1). Each sports team is assigned a single academic counselor that can work with them both as a whole and to meet individual needs (1).
There is however a debate as to whether colleges help student athletes too much. I vividly remember choosing to sit next to one of my friends in an undergraduate math class. We were told that where we sat the first day would be where we would remain sitting for the duration of the class. This friend happened to be a soccer player for the school. Let’s just say I got to sit next to her about three times the entire semester and instead got to sit next to her note-taker each week.
An example of academic assistance gone very wrong is the University of North Carolina (UNC) athletics scandal. Being a North Carolina native, I was in a UNC system college when this event unraveled. For almost two decades, student athletes were encouraged to take classes that did not meet in person and only required one assignment (2). Students were given a good grade despite how they actually performed on the assignment (2). Today it is estimated that this scandal has cost the university about 18 million dollars in legal costs (2).
What is your opinion on how student athletes are prepared academically?
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