As a former walk-on Division I baseball player – is being an athlete as glorious as most make it out to be? Of course, it has its perks such as getting praised by peers and having “first dibs” on picking classes.
There are many aspects of maintaining the good name of a student-athlete that most people don’t know about. Early morning workouts are a daily routine; starting with waking up at 5 A.M. to run the agility ladder, doing numerous amounts of stadium sprints, goblet squats, grueling core workouts, and so on. The intense workouts test the athlete to see how far he/she can go before giving in. This works into a steady progression of becoming stronger and more enduring.
Classes approach after a short while of the workout ending. By this time, the student-athletes have already been awake for a few hours. The stereotypical “jock” would sit in the back of the classroom with his or her head down to rest, meaning there is no participation or interaction within the time of the class. Hofstra student-athletes are never seen in this light since they are mandated to sit within the first three rows to ensure complete attention and involvement in the class. Baseball players, to add, cannot wear a hat while classes are in session as a sign of respect and mannerism.
Practice comes along after morning classes, lasting anywhere from two to five hours. Many practices contain conditioning to add on to the previous workout that morning. Once practice is over, the athlete has to either go to another class and/or make time for homework, preferably by doing so at study hall. Every first year student must complete at least eight hours of study hall per week. Any other student-athlete that has a GPA below a 3.0 is required to log in study hall hours as well. This may interrupt the social life of an athlete, especially if the hours have not been logged in during the week and the weekend is approaching. This is a requirement in order to stay eligible.
Being a Division I athlete comes at a cost. A huge commitment has to be made, leading to some sacrifices. Late night hang-outs with friends are less frequent as well as visits to home simply because there is not enough time for leisure. Athletes also face random drug-testing that is selected from a computer generated program. The university holds no responsibility for what is in the athlete’s body. The first time an athlete tests positive for abusing “recreational” or “street” drugs, they will be suspended from playing an already pre-determined amount of games based on which sport the athlete plays. For instance, a baseball player would be suspended for six consecutive contests, but a soccer player would sit out two games. The athlete also has to attend a minimum of three counseling conferences.
The second offense would cost the athlete a 12 month ban from playing as well as losing all scholarships for the year. Lastly, for a third and final chance, if the athlete tests positive on the drug test, all eligibility is completely lost, along with the permanent termination of scholarships.
The NCAA has a very strict policy about gambling. There is zero tolerance when it comes to any type of betting. If caught, the athlete is given a one year suspension. This includes betting on games (from Pee Wee football to professional sports), playing cards or any type of game where money is a prize, and being in a fantasy league that involves money. Student-athletes cannot accept any sort of prize or else there will be a price to pay.
These young adults are held to a high accountability. In time, these rules can teach them lessons on responsibility, manners, and self-worth. Athletes are always being trained on how to not just become a better competitor, but a more well-rounded person who won’t abuse drugs or gamble.
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Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : PJ Potter