i College Athletics: Distraction or Improvement to Athletes’ Education? | COLLEGE WRITING: DEBATE(S) IN HIGHER EDCUATION

Isabel Detienne

The debate behind college athletics effect on students’ academic success is a highly discussed topic. Many people draw the conclusion that the amount of time spent practicing and preparing for sporting events diverts one`s focus away from schoolwork. Some say that students would only truly benefit from playing college sports if they get paid because all their time is directed away from school. However, although this may happen in some cases, the most common side effects of time spent in college athletics are positive. The idea that college athletes need to get paid in order to truly benefit in a college setting is far from actuality. Collegiate athletes obtain countless skills that can not only benefit their physical health and mental being, but also those around them, resulting in an overall success in life.      

It can be argued that college athletes should benefit financially from their athletic skills and time commitment during their college years.  It is no secret that money is the most valuable thing in today`s society, and college athletics seem to be of high value. An article written by Samuel Devoe discusses the reasons why student athletes should be paid: “College athletes are employees of their school, but with no compensation. Does that seem fair? No. Pay the athletes. It’s only ethical.” Devoe talks about how much schools benefit from their athletes work and time. He states that all their hard work deserves a little money in return. However, what Devoe doesn`t talk about is the lifelong skills and benefits college athletes are “paid” with. There are endless benefits of playing college sports that make the extreme time commitments worth it.

Our society thrives off of communication and interaction. In this sense, one of the most important things in life is having the skill to work well with others. A great way for one to perfect this ability is to join an athletic team. It’s nearly impossible to walk away from a season without strong friendships and connections. The average sports team requires approximately 20 hours of practice a week, along with the actual games, and additional travel and bonding time. The extensive amount of interaction and exposure each individual has to the team is more than enough to build family-like bonds. Although I do have a first-hand experience with these types of friendships and can attest to their positive effects, other people I know and have spoken with strongly reiterate my opinion regarding the positive benefits behind the time commitment. A fellow, college student, named Drew, argues the same point: “Athletics in college was a positive because of the fact that it helped me meet new people.” Athletics, at any level, is a wonderful way for people to strengthen new or old friendships. College athletics can amplify the benefit to the athlete even more, due to the fact that most individuals enter college without pre-established friendships to count on for support. By joining a team, students have a much easier time building relationships and meeting new people. The time spent on schoolwork alone could never provide individual`s with the same benefits that come from being on an athletic team. Because so much of student athletes’ time is spent on building friendships and bettering their athletic skills, many individuals experience a great deal of stress associated with their school-work load. For some, this means putting off their homework or even overlooking their assignments as a whole. This results in lowered grade point averages and less focus on what’s most instrumental to their future career success. While this is a possible outcome, the most common result from the overbooked schedule in an athlete’s life is far from detrimental.

The time-demanding aspect of a college sport forces individuals to rank things by importance and focus their attention where and when it’s needed the most. Student athletes who are intent on achieving maximum, academic success are forced to regulate every bit of their time off the field or out of the classroom in order to reach their scholastic goal. A peer of mine, Selena, is a great model of this idea: “It seems to be helpful for me when I’m really busy because I know I have to get all my homework done before I can do anything else.” Selena successfully benefits from the time constraints put on her schoolwork. Instead of depleting her academics, she directly improves them with her effective planning skills. This is a great illustration of how, despite the extreme amounts of time required by college athletics, success in school can be achieved, and in some cases, better orchestrated through efficiently assigning times to tasks .Athletes are pushed to give it their all, plus a little more in effort to achieve full satisfaction. These demands are not short-lived, but are expected for extensive periods of time. They are forced to practice every day despite their level of tiredness or stress. By continuously pushing themselves to achieve their highest potential over the lengthy course of the season, they begin to develop a stronger mindset, a different mindset.

Although it can be argued that college athletes are focusing far too much of their energy and time on athletics, the outcomes are far from negative. Student athletes develop an ambitious mindset that can be translated into their schoolwork as well with the “110%” motto being applied to academics as well. Another student in my class, Brock, reflects upon this claim beautifully: “Football has taught me to never give up and to keep pushing on no matter how hard it is. It has taught me skills for how to work through pressure and to win both on the field and in the classroom”. Brock, as well as many others, have found a great deal of success in sports by never giving up and have grown accustomed to directly applying this dedication their academics when they are off the field. The demanding hours of practice and preparation for games does take away from students’ academic timelines; however, their improved mindset has an overall, positive effect as they apply skills learned on the field to the challenges of academics. Athletes view all challenges as obstacles that they can overcome. .

Along with the personal effect college athletics has on athletes, many other individuals are influenced as well. Sport teams are one of the most common way students and faculty are brought together as one. The act of going to sporting events, standing side by side fellow fans, and cheering for one central goal is enough to unite an entire community of my peers who don’t play sports still directly benefit from athletes time and commitment to their activity. Without an athlete’s hard work and dedication, they would never be able to entertain, or in many cases positively influence others to be their best. A fellow student in my class named Sierra talks about how she learns important life skills just by watching others place sports: “to see everyone working together to accomplish one goal fascinates me”. She acknowledges the fact that athletes serve as some of the most fundamental role models in a college community. The amount of time and effort that students athletes put in, not only directly benefits themselves, but many of those around them.

Overall, the idea that athletics take up far too much of college students’ study time can be proven false. Athletes are asked to devote a great deal of their personal time during the season to practicing and preparing, but out of this devotion endless positive outcomes arise. Individuals are bound to create long-lasting, strong friendships, learn how to balance life’s stressors, gain a sense of ambition, bring a community together, and serve as the most common role models. These skills allow athletes to overcome any obstacle placed before them. The lessons that can be taken away from playing a sport in college benefit the student in their current academic positions, as well as influencing their future. Student athletes walk away from the playing field with improved physical health and a wealth of knowledge, tools and skills which will enable them to succeed throughout their lives, far more powerful than money. Money may be able to buy happiness, but what it can’t buy however, is the skillset that college athletes are gifted with.


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