March 25, 2019
It has been over four decades since I entered college at UCLA. I really enjoyed being a student-athlete but I would be lying if I said there were not times when it was very difficult. Trying to balance school, practice, travel, games and yes socializing was not easy. Fast forward to present day and as the father of a soon to be student-athlete, things have not gotten any easier.
When I was in college, we almost always played games on Saturday. Today is there is college football on four to five nights of the week. A player playing for a team from the east coast playing a Thursday night in Seattle is very unlikely to be capable of functioning in class on Friday. Certainly being a college athlete has its perks, but as with everything in life there is a real cost for those perks.
The point of my writing this article is not to elicit sympathy for any student athlete. I am writing this article partly because I am tired of hearing uninformed people saying, “hey they get a free education, so what are they whining about .” First off this is America, nothing is free. In exchange for a scholarship, student-athletes are required to routinely navigate days that start at 6am ending at 10pm. That is a long day for anyone regardless of the activity or occupation.
The general public is often particularly confused about what being a college athlete actually entails. Getting a scholarship is the relatively easy part in comparison, keeping that scholarship is the difficult part. I always chuckle to myself when I hear people say “ He/she got a full ride to this school or that school.” There is no such thing as a full ride. Scholarships are renewable on and annual basis.
If one were to read the language of a NLI(national letter of intent), it spells out in no uncertain terms that scholarships are renewable annually at the sole discretion of the head coach and the school. Additionally, student athletes sign away all claims to their names or likenesses. No matter how well a college athlete performs, he/she will never be able to benefit from that financially.
There is much debate about whether student athletes should be able to profit from the revenue they generate . Regardless of which side of the debate your opinion falls, there can be no debate that college athletes generate a huge orbit of financial gain for many, but not themselves. It is often said, “It’s all about the student/athlete.” Is it?