Why College Athletes Are The Most Badass People You Will Ever Meet

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.


  1. yet another article that glorifies athletics. Our sports culture is broken, from tots to teens to college, the system that gets you to a D1 or DIII team leaves you with a totally distorted reality. Kids are raised from age 6,7,8 to believe that athletics are a source of positive reinforcement from parents, kids grow not to love a sport, but to love the attention it gets them.
    By the time you get to your college team you’ve spent your entire childhood in arink, on a court, in a pool. you forgo vacations for tournaments, you forgo outdoor adventure camps for sports camps. You go to college on a partial scholarship, and become property of the athletic department. You surround yourself almost exclusively with athletes, and the team, because that’s the only group you can function within. and in four years you emerge perhaps with an education, but more likely a sense of complete bewilderment at why you have no direction because the only thing that ever mattered to you was sports.
    We needn’t show athletes any deference, just pity. Those kids decked from head to toe in the warmups, they’re all exactly the same, and they’re the least “badass” people on campus.

    • Hi!

      Thanks for the comment. I’m a sophomore at Stanford University and a student-athlete. It’s really discouraging to read words like yours- to be genuine, all of the athletes not only on my team, but the athletes on other teams, have shown commitment beyond any of your wildest dreams. All of our parents were massively supportive of every athlete’s decision to go above and beyond their normal potential in high school and achieve a high standard of physical and mental strength.

      I won’t say the system is perfect- while most of the money and time is spent on the “big sports” (like football, where it is very easy to garner national attention), the smaller sports are purely in it to love and elevate their sport to the next level. As kids, we wanted to spend our time in pools and courts- that’s why we’re at such a high level of competition!
      The people who are just in for the attention never last long. I’ve seen them come, make their splash, and leave.
      The only pity you need to give is how little time we have to truly excel at academics. We’re not the same- we’re individuals, like you! I’m in a surgery class, another teammate is graduating in CS; the thing that makes us “all the same” is a common goal. If we excel at academics with 27 hours of our week missing, imagine us as normal students!
      Hanging with comrades is an individual choice. Do you hang out with people outside of your co-worker group at work? Do you go to different departments and make a big group of friends? No.
      Your comment implies that, essentially, athletes have no idea what to do with their lives because they center around sports. Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Psychology, Computer Science; all of these are majors our players are currently fighting for. We’re just as stressed out as any other student, if not more. A positive comment would be welcome!

      • I’m so thankful for your comment! Sometimes it’s hard to remember that even people ignorant to the sports world are allowed to comment on the amazing things the sport world produces. That was a good reminder to stay true to ourselves bexcuse we know the facts and they don’t. Thank you!

    • WOW you must have been cut from a team or perhaps you never even tried out!!! My daughter plays D1 and only received an academic scholarship in which she needed to maintain a 3.0!! She is graduating this year (within 4 years too) and was accepted into Nursing school!!! So you are WRONG!!! And sound a little bitter!! But there are some athletes that may fall into what you are stating- BUT DO NOT STEREOTYPE COLLEGE ATHLETES!!!

    • Really? If you speak from experience, I am sorry it was such a poor one that obviously damaged your perspective. If not, which is more likely, you have no basis for your bias other than envy perhaps. Envy of all the things this article talked about and a few it didn’t. It left out the academic, physical, and mental support systems in place. It left out being able to combine the love of the sport and academics. It left out the networking opportunities not just nationally but internationally. The best thing that ever happened to my daughter has been college varsity athletics DI. It has given her the opportunity to choose from colleges way out of our reach, to continue to train and compete in college to prepare for the next Olympics, to meet like minded people from every sport as well as explore different cultures, majors, life experiences of those within her sport, and to do what she loves on a daily basis. What you don’t get is that being a college athlete doesn’t happen if you aren’t passionate about your sport. It doesn’t happen unless you want it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • I spent my childhood dedicated to academics and athletics. I worked towards becoming a doctor since I was five but I also worked towards becoming the best athlete I could be. I finished high school with a 4.0 GPA in honors and AP courses. I went to a STEAM university that had Division 1 sports and played soccer there all 4 years while majoring in biomedical engineering in the renowned engineering school while also in the honors college. I studied for midterms on planes and did study hall on buses at 11pm coming home from a game a few states away. I was friends with a lot of athletes but some of my best friends in school were from my classes. I played all 90 minutes of the game, won MVP my senior year, graduated with a great GPA and now I’m in medical school, pursuing my dream of being a surgeon. I still play club soccer while in medical school because soccer is a passion and I could never explain what it taught me. I love sports but I also love school and for someone to write behind their computer screen hating on what athletes do day in and day out are just ignorant and could honestly never do what collegiate athletes do on a day to day basis.

  2. I haven’t even read this article, but you guys should better take that picture out from the article. That’s not a college team. That’s a FIELD JOCKEY NATIONAL TEAM!


  3. The most respect-worthy kids on campus are those in ROTC, or service academy cadets/midshipmen, and especially those who chose to ask for leadership responsibility. For them, it’s not only the daily 5:30 am physical training, and all have to be in a sport requiring this too, it’s delivering on top academics, then after graduation, it’s 4-8 more years of military service– so these other college kids can have their civilian life to dovwhat they want.

  4. As parent of two teenaged girls playing high level Volleyball. Club sports and the focus of getting a scholarship has tainted the experience and most student athletes end up with no direction after graduation and end up being an assistant coach. It’s over rated and over hyped by parents and club owners. Poor kids don’t even enjoy the sport and have to deal with unnecessary pressures.

    Find your God given talents and maximize your gifts and don’t fall for the trap of a worthless college athletics.


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