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Student-Athlete Is An Outdated Term, Often A Lie

ClipartWell, March Madness is over, done for another year. Exciting? You bet! What a championship game it was, with #1 Louisville pulling out a thriller over an excellent Michigan team. Great upsets through-out the tournament as well (and as always!). I, like millions of people, filled out my bracket, won some, lost some and talked with others at work and at the local watering hole about who won what and who should have but didn’t.

But there’s a little white lie going on here. Maybe it’s an open secret or maybe just intentional misdirection of the facts. I don’t know if you noticed, but I did.

All of these kids in major college sports are called ‘student-athlete’s’. All of them, no matter the sport, no matter the college. They are student-athlete’s.

Except of course, many of them are clearly not.

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘one and done’, or at least you have if you follow Division I college sports. Was it last year that Kentucky won the title and then lost virtually their entire team (or at least the best players) to the NBA draft? Over the past several years, there have been a lot of college players that played one year (maybe 2) and fled for the money of the professional sports.

Frankly, I don’t blame them. Really, I mean if you had untold millions of bucks staring you in the face wouldn’t you be saying ‘Thank you sir, yes, I believe I will have some of that green pie’. And the coaches, administrator’s and institutions know that when they invite them to come be a ‘student-athlete’ at their school. Again, as long as everyone knows the facts going in, then OK, no problem, the kid is going to play a year, maybe two and be gone to the Pro’s. Understand coach? Understand school President? Yes, we understand and welcome to campus!

But then, seriously, why do we insist on calling these kids ‘student-athletes’? Shouldn’t they properly be called ‘athlete-students’? Or maybe just ‘athlete’s who are required to attend classrooms for a school year (or less)’?

Yes, I know there are truly ‘student-athlete’s’ at Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan, Florida…well, name a major college of your choice. The majority of the basketball players, football players, baseball players, swimmers and other athlete’s are, indeed, students first and game-players second. And in the smaller institutions like Augustana, South Dakota State, University of South Dakota, Dakota State, University of Sioux Falls and others…well, they are virtually all students who have a special talent in their sport and participate in it. They are very, very good at their chosen sport and usually very, very good in the classroom and many will get a free (or reduced fee) education.

I guess it makes everyone feel better if they use the ‘student-athlete’ tag when talking about someone they clearly know will never get a degree at their institution, they clearly know will leave in a year or two and both sides (college and kid) are using the other to advance something other than an education.

But hey, it’s fun to watch, right?

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