first thing first

Every kid that really paid attention in their high school math classes remembers the sentence “the order of the factors does not alter the product.” Division 1 student-athletes wish this statement was true when it comes to how they are called. Being a “student-athlete”, according to the N.C.A.A. (National College Athletics Association) implies that being a student comes first, before any extracurricular activity, but is this term really accurate? Or should we change it their name to “athlete-students”? Men basketball and football players, sports that move hundreds of millions of dollars every year, are they, students, first too? Studies prove that the answer to this question is no. A survey organized by the NCAA showed that the majority of the basketball men athletes viewed themselves more strongly as athletes than students since they spend more time in the weight room and in practice them in the classroom or studying. This information clearly show that the idea of being a student before being an athlete has been corrupted. Students athletes tend to prioritize their sports above anything else, especially their duties inside the classroom. However, I don’t blame the players for their academic struggle, since they are required to perform in a high level of competitiveness on their sports while having to study for midterm or finals, for example. The fault relies on a number of factors, mainly the unhuman time pressure imposed upon athletes by universities, Coaches encouraging players to prioritize sports above anything else, higher education institutions making exception for players that clearly do not have the academic potential to succeed on that institution, among many other reason, can explain student-athletes’ poor performance inside  the classroom. In division 1 universities, student-athletes are pushed to their athletic limits, but the pressure imposed under this young adults, that many times “work” more than the average American on their sport, can lead to a lack of effort in the classroom. These “extra” activities (viewed mistakenly by many as the main point of college) of course is directly related to their low GPA. The money and prestige available to universities have turned their athletic programs into business enterprises that emphasize winning at all costs, often neglecting the education goals of their institutions. Being a student-athlete in a division one is not an easy task and my own experiences can prove it. The UCR men’s soccer team, which I am proudly part of, can demand surpassing hours of my week, especially when the team is in season. 17 hours every week that could be invested in homework or studying for a midterm, spend on the field, not including when the team has away games on a Wednesday night and we are forced to miss crucial lectures. My own experience has shown that the effort required to be a division 1 student-athlete and have a high-quality education is inhuman, but many coaches found ways to “help” their players do well in school. Coaches around the country encourage players to pick alternative majors, in order to pick easier classes. Players are placed on these majors with a high GPA average and high levels of admissability, such as ethnic studies or Global studies. This way, players can focus 100% on their sport, clearly putting the academic part of college, which should be the main one, in second place. Many times players come from high school with the idea of choosing a major such as engineering or medicine, but  when they face the reality of what it takes to be a student-athlete, in addition to the pressure made by their coach to perform well in both the classroom and on the field, athletes tend to pick these alternative major. In conclusion, Student-athletes have an important role, not only socially but also academically. The pressure imposed on them, the culture that encouragefirst fi them to focus more on studies than their sport and the peer pressure affects the student-athletes in a way that academics are seen as a way to play sports in college, not the other way around. So, first thing first. Academics are everything and are going to take you place that maybe your sport would never take you.Several studies have suggested that these factors have unfortunate consequences for athletes’ academic careers, resulting in their having lower grades and less chance of graduating than other students.

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