Monday, February 9, 2009

Stereotypes.....



Stereotypes
As sad as it is, we live in a world where negative stereotypes still
contribute to the opinions that dominate our minds. Being a young
black man, I've never been ignorant to the fact that there are stereotypes out there about me. However, I don’t feel it’s my job to educate everyone about how stereotyping is wrong. Rather, I see it as my duty to overcome all the negative stereotypes that people may assign to me.

Being student-athletes at UGA, we are often generalized. It is commonly assumed that all athletes are lazy and are really bad students. We are sometimes classified as dumb jocks even before people get to actually know us. Being a dumb jock isn’t the only stereotype that we must overcome. We must also overcome the myth that we are not here to get an education. Student-athletes may have different plans and courses that they would like their lives to take, but the overwhelming majority want to graduate with a degree from the University of Georgia. Here is a fact that most people don’t know: For the Fall 2008 semester, the University of Georgia’s football team had over 50 players with a 3.0 GPA or higher!

Instead of lowering our own expectations, most of us choose to rise above the criticism and try to be regular students on campus. Some people complain that student-athletes have too many perks. I often hear how unfair it is that we have the Rankin Smith Academic Center. But most of those people do not realize that the NCAA holds student-athletes to a higher standard than the average student. Most students have the option to drop classes whenever they please, student-athletes do not have that luxury. We must always remain in enough hours to be classified as full-time students. Also, in order to remain eligible, we must maintain a certain GPA and we have to meet a certain percentage in our progress toward graduation. This means that we can’t just take classes we’re interested in. We have to declare our major in our sophomore year and work toward that major the entire time we are student-athletes. How many people talk about the number of times they changed their major in college? Student-athletes can’t do that and stay eligible for competition. I’m not complaining. I just don’t think people who negatively stereotype us, really understand the life of a student-athlete.

During the season, this is an average football player’s day:

7:00 to 8:00am: Breakfast
8:00 to 9:30am: Study hall
9:00 to 2:00pm: Classes
2:30 to 4:00pm: Meetings
4:00 to 6:00pm: Practice

After 6:00, if we are not doing well in our classes we may have to meet with a tutor; however, even if we do not have any other scheduled activities, there is plenty left to be done. We still have to eat, do homework, and get ready for the next day. There is not a lot of free time, but that’s the price that each of us pays for the honor to say we are student-athletes at the University of Georgia.

What people might not know is that athletes are competing in the
classroom every day. We are also busy speaking at schools and visiting hospitals, as well as performing other acts of community service. A lot of people judge all athletes by what they see in the media. Of course there are some athletes that do bad things, but it is definitely not the majority. I figured this was a topic that needed to be discussed. Comments?

Romans 8:31

43 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Jeff. Thank you for providing insight to a student-athlete's typical day. I am proud of our student-athletes and am glad they take their academics seriously. This is a great reflection of their character, their families, advisors and coaches. Good luck this semester!

    GO DAWGS!

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  2. Good to hear your perspective on this, Jeff. As a current student, I'm in awe of the amount of stuff student-athletes have to do each day. I have the utmost respective for all of you guys. Keep the posts coming!

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  3. Very interesting, I didn't know about the rules restricting you from changing your major with impunity. I think you're right--negative stereotypes can overwhelm positives, even in small doses. At Georgia there have recently been several arrests, mostly very minor, that have given the team a negative profile (at least in the off-season). Thanks for reminding us about all the good things you guys do. (And stay away from scooters, for god's sake.)
    -Wes

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  4. My mother is an inner-city teacher and her students continuously year to year give her the impression they will be making their millions as either athletes or rappers. While I can't speak for the latter occupation, I know for a fact the best way to get discovered as an athlete is to accel at the collegiate level. That being said, these kids (5th graders) don't understand grades go hand-in-hand with the path to professional athletics. Also, as the commercials say of the 380,000 student athletes most will turn pro in something other than sports! The good news about athletic academics never gets reported, but the minute someone gets shipped to Hargrave it's big news.

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  5. That's good i think the university should require regular students to be that dedicated toward their studies. Sometimes its harder for me to have a ton of free time especially with all the distractions here in athens. Its good to hear a players point of view on this because it does help to dispel the classic "under water baket weaving" major classes that all athletes take. Student athletes like Myron Rolle of Florida State are a great example for students and student atheletes every where that hardwork is the only way to be successful

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  6. Jeff, very well put and very well written. This Blog is very plain proof that you are not only a great player, but a great student as well. The Bulldog Nation is very proud to have you as a part of UGA. Go Dawgs.

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  7. Great post Jeff. Thanks for giving us a look into a student-athlete's life. I had never thought about having to declare a major sophomore year, not being able to drop classes, starting my day at 7am and not ending til 6pm- that's a lot for ANY student to handle. When I was a student at UGA, I had classes at noon or later and really had a pretty easy day most days. I hope this blog serves to give insight as to how much you guys put in all the time. Can't wait to see you suited up again in the fall!! Goooo dawgs!

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  8. Great post, Jeff. You are so spot on that people have no idea what kind of rigors a student athlete has to endure. Not to compare (which means I am about to anyway), but undergrad I went to Georgetown on a combination rowing/academic scholarship. We didn't get the same kind of grief that the basketball team (since rowing is stereotyped as an "elitist" sport), but even we faced that kind of "dumb jock" attitude occasionally. We had practice 6 days at week at 5:30 am, and were expected to put in 1-2 hours in the afternoon on our own for weights or endurance training. Combined with classes and meals (and as an athlete, you really can't afford to blow off meals or eat quick junk food all the time) there was barely any free time at all.

    When I went to UGA law school, I had TONS of free time in comparison simply because I was not doing a varisty sport.

    Again, great post Jeff.

    -Michael
    Muckbeast - Game Design and Online Worlds
    http://www.muckbeast.com

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  9. Well said, Jeff. When I was at UGa I did some teaching in my Senior year. I had some of the stereotypes about players that you described coming in. I had three players in my lab section and I learned just how hard you guys work. I'm glad I had that experience, because now I know just what you're up against.

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  10. As much as the NCAA wants you guys (student-athletes) to be part of the institution where you all attend and for which you are asked to perform, your post just goes to show that you guys are not "Joe" student. Your daily regimen, at least during the season, seems more like a bona fide career than anything else. Of course, you guys won't walk away from college with student-loan debt into the tens of thousands, either. Nevertheless, insightful post, Jeff. Good luck.

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  11. Jeff, I'm a 30-year old attorney, and it seems like I'm reading an older and far smarter man's thoughts here. You have a great prospective on life, and I sincerely wish you the best.

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  12. Great blog, Jeff. Thank you for taking the time to provide some wonderful insight into what it is to be a student athlete. All of you have my greatest admiration and respect (even the ones south of the border who wear orange and blue). Good luck with the rest of your college career as a student and athlete and I'm wishing you the best in wherever your life leads you.

    How 'bout them Dawgs!

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  13. Jeff will you play on my flag football team next year?

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  14. You, and all the other Dawgs like you, are the reason I am proud to support UGA athletics with my money and my presence. I hope the masses read your blog. I look forward to seeing you do your thing this fall. Keep up the good work and "Go Dawgs"

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  15. Jeff, man we missed your leadership in 2008. Looking forward to such a fine young man lead our program in 2009. Thanks for your fine work on the post.

    Go Dawgs!
    Beat OSU

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  16. Great Job....Keep it real bro! Your honesty shines through in your writing...

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  17. Jeff,

    Great post. I remember going to football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, and gymastics games/meets when I was a student thinking to myself, "Man, these guys got to get up and go to class tomorrow too. Thanks for all you do on and off the field.

    AJ
    UGA '05

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  18. Jeff - I appreciate your insight and honesty. Most of us really do appreciate the effort and sacrifices that the athletes make in order to play for Georgia but sadly enough, the good things about the athletes very rarely make the news. Usually, it is only when someone makes a mistake that it makes the news. . . I think sometimes people forget that ya'll are held to a higher standard both on the field and off.

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  19. Great post, jeff. It is so true, what you say about the negative stereotypes. I will even go so far as to say I have stereotyped athletes before. In 2004 I had several classes with athletes and interacted with them on a regular basis. Most of them really cared about working hard and doing their best to further their education. A few were just there to get by and meet the minimums. For the most part, those student athletes are working extremely hard.

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  20. Great blog Jeff! I was once a regular old student at UGA and couldn't agree with you more. Not only do you have to memorize all your classwork, but you have to remember the plays, gameplan etc. during football season. That's alot of information to store.

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  21. Enjoyed reading this. Thanks for providing some insights into the lives of student athletes in a high profile program.

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  22. Man you know what it means to wear the G! Thanks for being a leader to the young dawgs, Jeff. If we had a roster full of #95's I think we would be alright...

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  23. Great posting on your daily schedule! I know last year at Football 101 for Women Coach Richt went through what "a day in the life of a UGA player" was like and I wondered how you keep going-it must be exhausting!
    I see you are a Early Childhood Family Development major - the teacher in me wonders if you plan on teaching in the future or what you plan on doing with your degree- post NFL of course. Also just curious if this blog was a class assignment?

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  24. Thank you Jeff, for not just putting meaningless words on your blog but for writing with purpose and offering up insight into the life of a student athlete. I applaud you and the efforts of your teammates for wearing the "G" and for making the Bulldog Nation proud.

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  25. Great post; I am going to link it to a couple of my Georgia Bulldogs Examiner blogs at Examiner.com--"Forty-nine UGA student athletes achieve SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll" and "UGA Athletic Association honors scholarship donors." Thanks, Jeff!

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  26. Jeff,

    Enjoyed reading your thoughts and posts so far. I've always appreciated how hard student-athletes work to fit everything into their day to balance school and sports. Even as a Microbiology major preparing for med school I had plenty of afternoons free to pursue whatever I chose. I know that I speak for many when I say that the Dawg Nation appreciates the hard work you all do in the classroom, on the field, and in the community. Looking forward to seeing the fruits of your labor on the field next year - all the best for a successful season and beyond!

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  27. Great stuff, if every student athlete had this same attitude, these stereotypes would not exist. I love the site, keep up the good work. GO DAWGS!

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  28. Jeff,

    No matter where life leads you after your time at UGA, you can always be a sports writer.

    Excellent job on this post..

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  29. Sir, I tip my hat to you. I wish more
    students and student/athletes had your
    outlook and understanding.

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  30. Thank for giving us a glimpse into the lives of the guys we cheer our guts out for every season and comment on endlessly. It is extremely gratifying to read your uniquely insightful and openly honest take on life wearing the big G we all love.

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  31. Jeff, you're the man! Keep up the good fight on and off the field. Daniel Regenstein

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  32. Hey nice post jeff

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  33. Great post, Jeff. You get to do something most of us dream of -- running into Sanford Stadium and playing for the Dawgs. Heck, I'd be thrilled to dress out for a game, much less be a star like you. But your post reminds us that it all comes with a very, very hefty price -- a brutal schedule that most college students could never handle, including me.

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  34. Jeff,

    Another great post! However, I know for a fact, just how hard you all have it and you really didn't do the schedule justice here.

    I know one player, WHO, 2 days a week, didn't get to eat his first meal of the day till 10pm with the schedule you all keep. You left off going to the film room, weight room,rehab,etc on this schedule.

    What most people don't realize either is, the time away from your families and the holidays, spring breaks, etc you have to give up. Other students at the beaches, etc., most years, depending on date of Gday, you all are stuck here. Shortened Christmas holidays too, etc. Students get almost 3 weeks, you all are lucky if you get 3 to 5 days.

    And how very strict UGA is with you all having any kind of relationship (dinner,etc) outside of UGA officials. General students can associate with whoever they please,have dinner with them, go to their homes, etc. without scrutiny,restrictions,permission, etc.

    Most don't know just how hard it is for you guys OR appreciate it as I do.

    By the way, how is Kade and Josh's rehab coming?

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  35. Jeff,

    You are one of the many young Men at Georgia who are absolutely destroying stereotypes of the "young black male".

    I'm sure the coaches and other influences are factors in that, but ultimately it is YOU who are taking those steps. You and your team mates have every right to be proud of your accomplishments and endeavors.

    You are now in a position to be setting an example to follow for the entire Bulldawg nation.

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  36. I've met a few athletes in my classes. Some perpetuated the stereotype, however, some most certainly did not. Those guys were some of the most participatory and engaged students.

    Thank you for this post, it was very insightful. This was my first time visiting your blog, and I got to say, it's wonderful!

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  37. hey man- thanks for the insight into your day 2 day routine. i sure am glad your back with us this year. this is my 1st time here, but it's pretty cool.........so, i'll be back. peace

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  38. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Well said, Jeff. Thank you for letting the world know the caliber of person it takes to be a student-athlete at UGA. I couldn't be prouder to be a member of the Bulldawg Nation!!

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  39. Awesome blog Jeff. this is my first visit of many. We are so thankful to have you back for the 2009 season. You are a great role model for kids everywhere and we parents and grandparents appreciate that!

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  40. Awesome post. This is my first visit of many to come I am sure. We are so thankful to have you back for the 2009 season. You are a fantastic role model for children everywhere and we parents and grandparents appreciate you!

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  41. Jeff,
    Great post. You guys definitely have it harder than the average student, so it really is admirable that so many of you are still excelling in the classroom. I'm really glad that you and others are doing your best to bust the stereotypes. Unfortunately, it's an uphill battle!
    I was a class checker, and had classes with several student-athletes as well. I gotta say, a lot of the guys perpetuated the stereotype. Here's what I mean: They may have had B's or better in the classes I saw them in. I don't know. But the attitude they projected in the halls and class didn't do anything to break the stereotypes. Some were attentive, some were pretty disrespectful, and most just seemed like they wouldn't be there if they didn't have a class checker. It was too often the, "I'm too cool for this" attitude that my basketball teammates in high school projected. It wasn't cool to be academically ineligible, but it wasn't cool to act like you cared too much about school either. I think we all have to admit that, though it's different with everyone, the prestige status athletes receive often goes to their heads and something about that makes it cool to appear a bit nonchalant or even arrogant.
    Granted, in many cases it is probably an unfair judgment on someone's character, but when you don't know someone, superficial impressions are big. When there are preconceived notions about student-athletes and young black males in particular, it's all the harder to convince someone to the contrary.

    All that to say: keep up the good work, and hopefully your leadership can help continue change the tide and eventually the stereotypes. As you know, you've got your work cut out for you!

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  42. Hey Jeff, the Bulldog Nation down here in South Florida can't wait to see you back on the field come game day! I played at Plantation back in '84-'86 under coach Carter and then under coach Hepler.I know you came from a great high school program and are with the greatest college program. Go Colonels and go Dawgs!

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