Monday, February 9, 2009
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?