What is the real meaning of student-athlete?

Courtesy of Google Images
Courtesy of Google Images

For this week’s blog post, I have decided to write about something that is continuosly trending on the news and social media. It it a topic that should be important to college students but mainly the athletes. Just the other day I was talking to a UNT athlete about what it’s like to a student-athlete at a university. Is this term “student-athlete” used correctly. Here’s my take on this subject that should be relevant to all of us.

Just two weeks ago, the new NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, said he would be in favor and strongly consider raising the NBA age limit to enter the league from 19 to now 20-years-old. I already thought that the NBA outlawing 18-year-old kids out of high school to enter the league was wrong, but to now make these guys wait two years to pursue their dream is a bit excessive to me. In America, if you’re great at something or an outlier, you should not have to remain with the pack. Take the late tech-enthusiast Steve Jobs for example: no one forced him to stay in college; he didn’t need it, and he had the perfect opportunity to seize what he was great at it. A kid can enter the military at the age of 18, operate a deadly 2,000 pound vehicle on the dangerous highways at the age of 16, but to play professional basketball at the age of 18, well that’s just outrageous(sarcasm)! It’s a crime, in my opinion, to make any person stay in college when they don’t have to. One of the biggest myths in professionals sports in this: most guys who enter the NBA from high schools are failures. Um, have those naysayers realized that the majority of the NBA’s stars have come out of high school. So I guess Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Lebron James and Dwight Howard are all NBA failures. I guess the guy who wasn’t successful in the league isn’t happy with his 5 million dollar signing bonus for getting drafted, unlike the average college student who will make an entry-level salary at around $35,000-$45,000 dollars. Yeah, that guy who made $5 million dollars for getting drafted is a complete failure in life(sarcasm again).

I wanted to initially make that point about the NBA because I wanted to really highlight the hypocrisy of the NCAA. According to an article I found on DeadSpin.com, the term “student-athlete” is meant to conjure the nobility of amateurism and the precedence of scholarship over athletic endeavor. In translation: it means that you are not an employee of the collegiate sport, therefore, you will not be compensated or provided any benefits for our business. The history of the “student-athlete” came into play in the late 1950s when a football collegiate player by the name of Ray Dennison- who played in Colorado for the Fort Lewis A&M Aggies- died due to head injuries on the playing field. The widow of Ray Dennison decided to file for workers’-compensation death benefits, but since Ray Dennison was a “student athlete”, the Supreme Court of Colorado agreed with the school’s contention that he was not eligible for benefits.

The history of this term is what caught my eye. I agree that every athlete in college should fully be locked in on their school work, while simultaneously competing at their particular sport. But does it make the NCAA look hypocritical because the student is technically not apart of that collegiate sports’ business? NCAA football is the second most powerful and popular sport in the country. Boosters will donate millions for these universities, television networks will get outstanding ratings because of the athletes’ dynamic play, retail stores will sell an abundant amount of the school’s gear, yet, not one player in football next year will get a dime of the multi-millions generated. Basically, the NCAA is trying to tell me that Johnny Manziel didn’t make Texas A&M more valuable as a product? But the school will be making millions off of Johnny Manziel’s marketability. The “student-athlete” defense has compiled a lot of victories for colleges in liability cases as well. A poor college kid selling his own valuable memorabilla for dollars will get penalized, but a current NCAA coach for a team can fly across the country to interview for his next job, although he preached “loyalty” and “integrity” to a vulnerable high school kid to recruit him. It’s hypocrisy at its finest.

Back on the NBA topic: what the league and NCAA want to do is mandate a young athlete to strict, dictated NCAA rules for two years, while his family may be at home living in poverty. He could just go to the league and make the millions for his struggling family right away, but no, the NBA and NCAA wants the athlete to stay in school for two years because it will help their product. By the way, do not let the let the kid make some money for himself on the side, the NCAA will legislate that as well.

Let me know what you think? Do you like the term “student-athlete? Should student-athletes get paid and is the NCAA hypocritical? Feel free to comment.


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