College sports are a huge part of today's societies entertainment. College games are televised, gambled on, and obsessed over every day. Being a student-athlete is often glorified by students and, as outsiders, it can be easy to forget that the athletes are not full-time athletes. Collegiate athletes everywhere are criticized repeatedly by spectators on a daily basis. So here are a few things to keep in mind next time you hear someone, or you yourself, criticize Student-Athletes:
1. There is a lot of stress that comes with being a Student-Athlete.
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Student athletes are put in a tight schedule, they have to find time to fit in at least twelve credit hours around practice times and other mandatory athletic events. Think about just how stressful it is to be a regular college student. Now imagine four hours of practice time on top of going to all of your classes, while finding time to study and do homework, find a way to pay for college, and still manage to eat full meals and find time to sleep before early morning training. That is a typical day for a student-athlete.
2. People are always watching.
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In the last couple of years many student athletes have made national headlines for a variety of reasons both good and bad. The average student-athlete is being watched at what feels like every moment of the day: there are people watching social media to make sure everything we post is a 'good reflection of the university', there are people checking in to make sure we are attending class, there are people who are constantly monitoring weight and the athletes nutrition. All the pressure of feeling like they are constantly under a microscope will make any twenty-year-old feel like they're walking on eggshells
3. Student Athletes are NOT all on scholarship.
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The heated argument as to whether student athletes should be paid or not has gone on for ages and, as of now, athletes are allowed scholarship and that is considered payment. However, with the obvious time constriction from the athletic portion of a student athletes life, there is not much time to fit in any type of job. Due to the fact that very few athletes are actually on a full ride, some athletes earn a book scholarship, or even a meal scholarship, but many programs don't have scholarships for every athlete on the team. Which in turn means that many athletes are putting in hours of hard work for just for the opportunity to participate.
4. There is no 'Off Season'
Sure, to the spectator there is an off-season, there aren't any competitions going on, so that is considered an off-season, right? To the student-athlete it means that there are no competitions but there is still work to be done. Practices and meetings do not stop because competition ended. Even over breaks, when all the other students go home to their families or on trips and adventures to fun places, many programs expect athletes to attend workouts and practices. Where the student-athlete is doing double, sometimes triple, the work they were doing before. The grind truly never stops.
5. The 'Perks' are earned.
There are always complaints that student-athletes are given unfair perks but the truth is that those perks are well earned. Sure student athletes earn perks such as fuel stations that provide athletes with nutrition because many don't have time to eat lunch in between class and workouts, athletes earn perks such as certain levels of scholarships because the coach can no longer ignore the work and improvement that is being shown, but most importantly student athletes earn the privilege of earning the opportunity to continue their athletic and academic career.