Money or Fame? An NCAA Athlete Wants Both

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Because children grow up watching college athletics on television and see the fame that NCAA athletes obtain, many athletes attempt to create a lifetime occupation out of sports while they neglect opportunities in academic achievements because they are infatuated with the idea of being a jock for life.

While an average student finds time to complete homework assignments with ease, student-athletes have a full schedule of classes and practices per week. On top of weekly practices and lifting exercises, athletes often travel to games across the country on weekends, forcing them to do their homework on the road without a quiet study environment some students require. According to the NCAA’s Eligibility Standards, all students “who want to practice, compete, and receive athletically related financial aid” must oblige by standard GPA requirements imposed by the NCAA. Though the NCAA attempts to convey how they are firstly concerned with the “student” side of a student-athlete through their regulations, these standards simply provide more restrictions and expectations for student-athletes, proving how they literally sign a contract to a job that has no pay.

Besides the fact that the NCAA promotes a concentration on sports, the number of hours the NCAA allows coaches to allocate per week limits the amount of time student-athletes have out of class and practice to participate in other realms of college life. The overwhelmingly long days of student-athletes are exemplified in the video, A Day in the Life of Student Athletes at Utah State University.

In order to graduate in four years time, student-athletes must focus only on their intended major and minors. Because of this, student-athletes have no time to enjoy experiences outside the literal classroom and their sport.  While most college students are involved in clubs and internships that promote a stable career later in life, student-athletes are not usually given opportunities to get involved. If student-athletes weren’t forced to oblige to the NCAA’s restrictions, they could further engage in campus life and focus on making a career through their studies.

According to the book, Reclaiming The Game: College Sports and Educational Values, “many DIA schools have extremely low graduation rates”, especially for men’s football and basketball players (125). This fact proves that the more publicized and media-drawn athletics become, the less students focus on academics as they divert the majority of their attention to sports rather that school in order to become professional athletes before academic scholars. The authors of this book claim that those students who do graduate from college while playing a Division I sport are “getting by”, and often end up in the bottom third of their graduating class academically (127).  This evidence supporting that “recruited athletes ‘underperform’” in the classroom further proves that the NCAA’s efforts to place academics above athletics are flawed and failing in action as many student-athletes are solely concerned with becoming athletically famous.

Indicated by statistics comparing academic achievements of student-athletes versus average students, it’s evident that the more serious athletics become, the more the importance of education dwindles. Thanks to the NCAA’s image of an “athlete”, receiving a scholarship to a large DI universities and eventually becoming a professional athlete are now the common goal for many young adults across the nation. Colleges have, as of late, selfishly created athletics to fulfill an “entertainment reality”, and universities are now focused on developing “big-time” sports (Sack 135). Because colleges are concentrating on becoming part of the entertainment industry to generate revenue and fame, college athletics are becoming full-time occupational jobs in which athletes are merely the routine laborers who put in the work, but do not receive any of the profits (Sack 137).

While the institution of the NCAA seems positive for athletes in theory, the program has actually created unnecessary values that force student-athletes to look past the importance of school, making college all about sports and becoming a professional athlete.  Besides obvious underperformance in the classroom, student-athletes’ dedication to their sports prohibits them from getting involved in other social and academics aspects of college, obliging all athletes to settle for a lesser college experiences than those students who are able to experience various opportunities.  Because athletes ultimately put all focus into an occupation that provides no benefit to them in the long run, the NCAA’s regulations should unquestionably be altered to truly help athletes become well-rounded adults with admirable characters, values, and careers.

Works Cited
“Academic Standards.” NCAA Public Home Page. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.
Bowen, William G., and Sarah A. Levin. Reclaiming The Game: College Sports and
Educational Values. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003. Print.
Sack, Allen L., and Ellen J. Staurowsky. College Athletes for Hire: The Evolution and
Legacy of the NCAA’s Amateur Myth. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1998. Print.

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