The NY Times published this article about two weeks ago that brought attention to the experiences of college athletes, and I wanted to comment on it sooner. You might have noticed that my posting has slowed down in general, but I’m pretty sure this is temporary.
When a lot of people think of college athletic scholarships, they imagine the star of the football team at a bowl school. Maybe some nice cars, a full ride, private tutors, whatever. The more glamorous movies might involve even more questionable perks.
The reality described in the many testimonials now floating around the internet shows something else: Scholarships that only pay for a fraction of college costs; non-stop obligations (especially into the weekend when most students are off having a good time); and a dedication to the sport and academics. Amy Reinink at the Gainesville Watchdog Blog fears some student athletes are being shortchanged, and the comments go even further to suggest the deals are terrible regardless of the individual specifics.
Well, I think if you plan on going to school and playing sports, it better be because you truly love the sport. I knew many student athletes at my college, and as a Division 3 school we didn’t have any sports scholarships worth speaking of (UNF was phasing to a Division 1 school when I left). They put in the extra hours for love of the sport, and (at least the ones I knew well) didn’t sacrifice academics. A few teams competed in national competitions, sure it was against other Division 3 schools, but when they won we cheered and when they didn’t we were all a little down.
But I say congratulations and good luck to these student athletes in high pressure division 1 colleges, even if they aren’t getting a full ride. Part of college (especially paying for it) is coming to terms with economy (the reconciliation of unlimited wants and limited resources). Student athletes on partial scholarships are demonstrating a lot of the advice I’ve given here on this site. Regardless of student interest, the key to “free college” is a lot of hard work, good grades, and excelling in your specialty or interest. One source of funding might not be enough to cover everything, so you have to seize every one available to you. Most of all: Find something you enjoy and try your hardest.