Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Them's Fightin' Words

The other day my girlfriend sent me a link to an opinion article  on our Alma Mater's website about student athletes. Let's just say my sassy button was pushed!

If you remember back to this post about me thinking about running again, I mentioned that I was a D1 collegiate athlete my freshman year. I realize that I only ran one year and I did get to experience the perks of being an athlete, like Irwin, that awesome planner, free tutoring and some gear.  I was required to spend 10 hours every week at Irwin or face disciplinary action that could also be felt by my teammates if I didn't fulfill them, depended on how the coach felt! And lets be honest, I was there way more than 10 hours each week. Along with the mental stress of having the coach yell at you during practice, worrying about everything you ate that day and if you would be seeing it later at practice, letting your teammates down, etc. etc.

I got to experience campus life both as an athlete and as a non-athlete. And I can tell you that I would rather be a normal college student than a student-athlete. I am grateful for the chance to experience that opportunity but I wouldn't choose it again, and not every athlete is treated that awesome by their school, depends on the sport and it depends on their performance ability.

I was the absolute bottom of the barrel athlete on the team, so I never got to travel to meets, I competed a total of 3 times, yet I was at every practice and doing the same workout as my teammates. I spent a minimum of 3 hours (I had 1 practice last for 5 hours) in practice everyday, including Saturdays and Sundays, and usually 2-a-day practices. Along with having a regular course load, and doing homework like other students.

And going out for a good time during season, forget it! Runners are 3 season athletes, so at most we'd get a 2 week break for such things as partying between seasons, oh and we still had to practice in those 2 weeks.

I realize that there are those who worked multiple jobs while doing a full course load as well. But think on this, these "privileged" students work and are not paid in money, they are paid in those perks that every other student seems envious of but the true cost comes at what performing at that level can do to your body.

Yes, student athletes are prime examples of being physically fit but have you ever trained so much that your foot literally breaks from the stress your body is under? My own sister had that happen after recovering from having her other foot broken in a race. There are ligament tears, there are lost toenails, muscle pulls, stress fractures, the injuries are endless. They are constantly putting their bodies and health on the line for a sport they are passionate about and for school pride. Would you be willing to do that, just for a free planner?

And to be at the collegiate athletic level, you don't just wake up one morning in high school and decide that what you want to do, most of these athlete have been doing their sport since grade school or even before they were in school. Me and my sister started running and training when she was 8 and I was 6. Granted she enjoyed and trained 50x harder than I did. It started out fun but it became more and more competitive as we got older.

Sorry for the rant, but I have seen both sides of this coin something that most do not. I stopped running because I couldn't handle being a student and an athlete. The stress of the the sport and training pretty much hammered out almost all love I had for doing my sport again even for health and fun. In fact, most student-athletes will experience burn out and some may never get back to just having fun in their sport. Something you find relaxing and fun may forever be seen as competition and bring back memories of injuries and disappointment to a student-athlete.

So, until you have truly experienced the level on which these athletes perform and live, don't think they are getting perks just because they have a study center and a planner. Their heart and soul go into something they have been doing for at least 10 years and that after college they may never do again.

No comments:

Post a Comment