Saturday, December 02, 2006

In praise of... student athletes

In a recent sport section, the Hartford paper wrote of a UConn women's basketball player who was "jittery" in her last game and was hoping to overcome being "tentative." Here's the catch: that player, Tina Charles, is a seventeen-year-old freshman, and the last game was her first collegiate game.

How would you like to be have thousands of people publicly evaluating you as a seventeen-year-old? I couldn't handle it as a forty-four year old.

I appreciate student athletes because they work so hard. I realize that other students have part-time and full-time jobs, but few would be as demanding as being on a Division-1 team, at least in season. Their schedule is constantly interrupted by games and practices, and they are expected to carry a full load of classes. How they are not always asleep is beyond me. I realize that some of the athletes are in over their heads academically, i.e., they wouldn't have gone to a school like UConn if not for athletics, but, at least for those in my classes, they don't complain and just work harder to catch up.

Student athletes also live their lives under constant public attention. Above is pictured Charde Houston who, like most the basketball players, has had thousands of words written about her psyche, emotions, background, and all sorts of personal things. That just doesn't seem fair. Even athletes with less visibility are constantly monitored by various coaches, advisers, and counselors.

Finally, student athletes give far more to the university that it gives them. Certainly there are perks to being an athlete, in terms of scholarships, housing, and other things, but they still give more. In the case of UConn, we are in the midst of a two-decade, 2.3 billion dollar state-funded building program initiated in the mid 1990s. I've heard from several administrators from that time that it would not have happened if not for the UConn women's basketball team's national championship in 1995. (University of Connecticut-Lobo?). How much would it cost to buy the exposure that sports teams give us? A whole lot more than the administration would be willing to pay. Heck, even the number of student applications jump with each national championship (the numbers are getting pretty high now). Put differently, UConn academics would not be so good without its athletics.

So, here's to all you student athletes!

Now, get back to work.

(P.S., Tina Charles had 18 points and 17 rebounds in only 29 minutes the next night).


André said...

I have seen my fair share of student athletes that feel entitled to passing grades without ever wanting to do the work. Luckily the student athletes that I currently have in my classes are hard working and they take the time to ask questions when they do not understand. I think that the few student athletes that do not want to work for their grades give those that do a bad reputation.

brewright said...

I agree that some of them feel entitled, but I wonder if there are more than non-athletes who feel entitled?

Entitlement, among both students and professors, is certainly at high levels.


André said...

It is true that some non-athletes, athletes and professors feel entitled. I wonder why the feelings of entitlement are so high... Any thoughts?