So Student Athletes? Who are they? What do they do? How do we feel about them? Ponder those questions for a few minutes…
Student-Athletes are a special population on our campuses. Student-Athletes are the Swans of our campus. They’re idolized, looked up to, but very misunderstood. We see them on our campus, but depending on our position our experiences with them differ. We know they’re someone’s responsibility, but not ours.
In this profession, we sometimes forget to think about the individual needs of our special student population. They share the same identities as our typical student leaders, but often are separated on our campuses. Student-Athletes share many identities including first generation, low-income, minority, LGBTQ, etc. However, often these student-athletes are becoming the face of our university more than our most profound professors. When you are the face of the university, D1 or D3 or NAIA that comes with a special set of pressures that you may have little idea how to handle. You’re constantly being watched and someone is waiting for you to “mess up”. Your social media accounts are nearly stalked by administrators. The moment you brag about a large defeat is a second closer to being called into your coaches or Athletic Directors office.
If you’re an African American man, you’re often stereotyped by your campus community. I cannot explain how many times I’ve heard the words “they’re only here for Football/Basketball.” We often make judgments based on their clothing style. We feel that they should dress more professionally. We need to do better at supporting this population.
Differences between Divisions:
The life of a student-athlete differs depending on the level of the institution (D1,D2, D3, NAIA). The “requirements” for the student-athlete also differs among levels. For example, a D1 high-profiled mainstream student-athlete will be constantly in front of the camera eyes. A non-mainstream student-athlete experience on campus will still result into separation from the university community. Their roommate more than likely will be a teammate or fellow athlete. Division I FBS reports the highest time spent in their sport at 43.3 hours per week. Division III athletes report approximately 30 hours per week.
The NCAA did a great study in 2011 asking Division I student-athletes why they came to their respectable institutions. 65% of men’s college basketball players responded responded “agree or strongly agree” for academic course offerings. 83% agreed or strongly agreed for athletic participation. Only 39% of women basketball student-athletes agree that their coach can be trusted. Interesting? 31% of mens basketball players at Division 1 responded that their head coach puts them down in front of others. 26% at Division III responded the same. On the contrary, 81% of athletes reported that “athletics provided me with a connection to the campus.
Statistics Don’t Lie
We are all a fan of statistics. As athletes, statistics are the way we “prove” our ability. I wanted to provide you with a large variety of statistics regarding student-athletes. There are 420,000 student-athletes across the country. 15% of Division 1 student-athletes are first generation students. How many of these students are being given the resources they’re needed?
In 2012, a Campus Pride survey found that out of 8,481 intercollegiate athletes surveyed, 394 identified as LGBTQ. 7 identified as transgender. First year athletes are less likely to identify than sophomores, juniors and seniors. LGBTQ student-athletes are 6x more likely to be singled out by an authority figure. Why is this happening? 82% of NCAA intercollegiate athletes are earning their degrees. But, wait “I thought they were dumb jocks?”. College athletes graduate at a higher rate than college students in general. The Academic Progress Rate started in 2005, have have allowed more than 11,500 students return to college.
Alcohol seems to be a constant use among students across college campuses nationwide. In a 2013 survey by the NCAA 82% of female athletes reported using alcohol in comparison to 80% of males. 33% of females drink 4+ more drinks in compared to 44% of males drink 5+ in a sitting. Substance use is the highest at the division III level. But “ESPN says…”.
Not all student-athletes receive athletic scholarships. Football receives 85 scholarships on average in which golf receives 4.5. Women’s soccer on average receives 12 scholarships. Over 150,000 student-athletes receive athletic scholarships. College athletics creates a team environment. Student-athletes learn important skills such as leadership and time management. 1.2% of college men basketball players will go pro and 1.6% of football players. For women’s basketball its .09%. It’s essential to continue the focus on developing the student.
The NCAA reported in 2013 approximately 10.3 billion dollars. I’ll leave that fact alone. I will say, we should obviously see why student-athletes are demanding to be paid.