We’ve all seen them walking around our college campuses. Usually, they travel in packs, like wolves, decked out from head to toe in their branded warm up suits and backpacks. They are the ones sitting in 8 AM class looking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, given that they’ve already had a three-hour practice. And they are the ones we’ve all been jealous of for receiving academic accommodations and “late write” permission due some tournament or game.
From the common:
Basketball. Soccer. Volleyball. Football.
To the uncommon:
Ultimate Frisbee. Water Polo. Women’s Flag Football. Badminton.
Name a sport, and there’s probably a varsity college team for it. Varsity athletes are a dime a dozen now-a-days. Despite this, college athletes are still critically important to college institutions. One BIG thing has changed though: gone are the days where varsity athletes were written off as dumb jocks, basically there to play their sport, take some bird courses, and somehow manage to earn that fancy piece of paper a couple of years later. More often than not, if you look at a team’s roster, you’ll see “Major: Bio Medical Engineering, Math and Statistics, Law“ programs that all come with pretty hefty workloads.
This article is a tribute to all those students who bring it, not only on the court or field…but also in the classroom.
The argument has been made that our society has the tendency to over celebrate and idolize athletes, placing them on a pedestal that equates their status to that of Nobel peace prize winners. Sure, the fame and fortune may be a little excessive at times, but that fame and status is really only experienced by professional athletes in a professional league. Those preconceived notions and negative connotations surrounding athletics, should not be over generalized and used as a classification for student athletes as well.
I’ve lived with and been friends with varsity athletes, and will be the first to attest to the fact that their time management skills are second to none. These kids balance mid terms, assignments, group projects, the whole nine yards, on top of practice schedules that rival a part-time job. That’s not even taking into consideration games and tournaments (which literally devour one’s entire weekend like a linebacker eating pasta after a football game).
So the sprinters, and full-backs, and liberos have time management pretty down pat. But what else do they bring to the table?
How about team work skills? Determination? Work ethic? Leadership skills?
We’ve all heard that a team is only as strong as it’s weakest link, and that the best measure of a team isn’t the team’s attitude when racking up wins, but instead how it responds to a losing streak. When the going gets tough, that’s when teams can begin to crumble, and it’s always easier to blame someone else for screwing up a play than blaming yourself. Arguably, this is one of the best ways in which athletes are forced to inevitably develop some degree of people skills along the way. Even those athletes that participate in individual sports, such as wrestling or cross-country, need to build relationships with their coaches. Whether it is figuring out the right communication style, or balance of respect between coach and player, all sports help develop people skills.
You are a fool to think that any athlete isn’t a determined individual. Aside from bouncing back from a loss, making it as a college athlete is not an easy road to have traveled. Most of these students have spent the last 15+ years of their life dedicated to a sport. Determined? Absolutely. But just because you want something bad enough, doesn’t mean it’s going to be achieved through osmosis. In the word of ASAP Rocky, you need to put in work. Which (and this is one generalization that I WILL make) all athletes have done, do, and will continue to do.
Which leads me into my main plea…we, (and by we, I mean fellow students, parents, coaches, recruiters, professors, etc.) need to give these athletes the respect that they deserve. I am not a varsity athlete, so the argument that this article is written out of bias is irrelevant. I’m just a student who loves sports, loves the idea of leaving it all on the court/field, and loves the idea of people achieving and receiving what they deserve.
If I ever end up in a corporate position that results in me needing to hire or recruit college graduates I’m going to look for someone who is able to work with others, bounce back from set backs, and is willing to work hard. I know that all I will have to do is look for someone who has graduated from university while playing on a varsity sports team, because not only will they have earned my attention…but they will already have earned my deep respect.
Featured Image via Las Leonas.