Ed’s Note: Written by Joe Schiller
The life of a college athlete is surreal.
Walk around with any star athlete on campus and you might feel like you’re in the presence of a celebrity. Ask any athlete to define the word humble and they may have trouble doing so. This isn’t surprising and who can blame them?
Aside from the glitz and glamour, college athletes on scholarship deal with more pressure than doctors performing surgery. OK … maybe not that extreme, but you get the point.
Aren’t athletics supposed to be fun? Sure, when you’re scoring touchdowns and throwing alley ops you bet your ass it’s fun. Win and life is good, but lose and life is hell.
Life as a college athlete isn’t as easy as one might think. If you want to see the soft side of any athlete just listen to them answer questions from a college recruiter. While young athletes may appear to be over confident, the recruiting process can be a cruel and relentless experience. Prospects labeled with “five star talent” will have a recruiter guarantee them anything from a jersey number to a starting role as long as they provide their signature.
Trust me I would know.
Out of high school I signed a letter of intent to attend a division II school in Idaho. Before signing it seemed my phone would never stop ringing with calls from the coaching staff. They assured me I was their main priority and offered me a generous scholarship. After committing they were nowhere to be found. Promises that were made ended up being nothing but lies.
Looking back I wish I would have asked more questions and taken more time to consider my options. Playing college baseball had always been my dream and being offered a scholarship was impossible to turn down.
To an athlete, earning a scholarship means everything. All the hard work; the sweat, the blood and the tears, finally seem worth it. But it only gets harder.
Pressure didn’t exist in high school.
Lets be honest; how many times have you found yourself screaming at the television because someone on your team made a crucial mistake? Guilty? We all are. Last year’s disaster at Boise State even had an elderly woman dropping F bombs. As a fan it’s easy to get frustrated, but try and name one athlete who wants to fail. Jamarcus Russell doesn’t count.
Most college athletes will confirm that playing a college sport is more like a job. Senior Lekendric Longmire, a guard for Oregon’s basketball team agrees. “If you’re not winning then your coach’s job is on the line and so they take their frustration out on the players.”
Lekendric also explained some of the expectations as an athlete on scholarship: “There is a lot of pressure to perform and stay out of trouble off the court. It really goes back to winning; if your winning they will honor what they promised, if not they won’t.”
Picture this analogy. A waitress is responsible for taking orders and tending to their customers to ensure they have a pleasant dining experience. To expect a waitress to cook while also serving customers would be illogical. Is the idea of a student athlete much different? I think not. The idea of a student-athlete is not realistic. In order for a college athlete to maintain their ability and be ready for the competition, they MUST devote a majority of their time to practice.
Practice??? We’re talking bout practice?? Practice doesn’t make perfect, but practice builds confidence. Confidence to overcome the pressure athletes feel in more ways than one. I’m still trying to figure out where academics fit in.
College athletes deal with pressure in all forms: Pressure to perform, pressure to get good grades, and pressure to represent their school. Scream as you wish, but remember what goes into being a college athlete. These are young adults, not professionals.