Bryan Haskins, ‘Doah Contributing Writer
November 6, 2013
Could you imagine doubling your workload for a half of a year or more, only to receive credit for half of your work? College athletes confront this unbalanced scale of workloads every year they step onto campus. Shenandoah University basketball player Kyle Murph states, “We work harder than anybody else. We have workouts, practice, games, and those workouts [are not a] joke.”
But yet, all we hear is constant nagging about college athletes illegally accepting money, breaking NCAA drug policies and being told what they can’t do. With the amount of time and work that athletes put into their sports, you would think that they would receive more than a trophy for winning and a pat on their backs for losing.
How about a Bachelor’s degree in their athletic sport? After all, college athletes spend the majority of their time learning and mastering their sport.
Granted, college sports are an extracurricular activity that students choose to participate in, which is the main argument for not being paid to play. Then there is the “well they receive scholarships – a free education should be enough compensation” argument. This ends up being a scholarship for a free education used to study your sport more than your major.
Looking at football, at the Division I level, we can break down the amount of time that students spend focusing on their sport rather than their major.
This year the University of Alabama Crimson Tide kicked off their football season on Aug. 31 — ten days after classes began on campus. Twenty days prior to the beginning of classes, football players were reporting to campus for their first day of practice. Their season is scheduled to end on Nov. 14, but they are the favorite play in the National Championship in January. The school academic season ends the fall semester on Dec. 13, but the football season won’t end until nearly a month after that.
The end of the season is really just the beginning of offseason. The team has ten weeks to focus solely on school after the championship before starting spring ball on March 21. Offseason lasts until late April which leaves players two measly weeks to focus on the remainder of their academic year.
Out of a 36 week academic calendar, a football player only gets to live the life of a normal college student for one-third of that. Unfortunately, this makes school sound like the extracurricular activity.
As careers in sports are steadily expanding from the media to the medical fields, the real experts of the sport study everyday throughout college. Players learn sports from the inside out by studying offense, defense, special teams and their respective positions. They also learn communication and leadership skills and how to deal with extreme pressure. I’m not saying that that’s the curriculum, but for a basis of study, it seems fitting for a bachelor’s degree.
In terms of academia, allowing students to earn college credit for playing a sport will give those who don’t get to shine in the light an opportunity to level out the playing field with knowledge of the sport. Of course, some random average Joe can’t just walk onto a campus and say I want to major in baseball. But to play at the college level means that they are preparing to perform at the professional level, which is directly in line with coming to college to train in a specific field.
The fact that students spend just as much time training and practicing for a sport as they do for their declared majors is justification as to why they should be compensated for their efforts. I say substitute the practices with classes, workouts with homework, games with projects, and you’ll have an exact exchange for the work that students do in the classroom. Balance the scales and give students credit for what they work for.