most recent Marshall Henderson saga has gotten some debate..."/> most recent Marshall Henderson saga has gotten some debate..."/>
Busting Brackets

On the Dilemma of Being a College Athlete


The most recent Marshall Henderson saga has gotten some debate going between college basketball fans. Obviously what Henderson did was stupid, worthy of punishment and Ole Miss had to do something to show Henderson they did not support his actions. All of this is entirely true, Henderson has a lot of issues to deal with and this should jolt him into making some changes for the better.

All of this drama got me thinking a little bit though, are there severe double standards when it comes to NCAA athletes? Do they sometimes get away with too much and sometimes have extra punishment handed down to them simply for being athletes? I think that this is most definitely the case.

For example, since I am Canadian, I attended a Canadian University about four hours from my hometown. For those of you who don’t know, hockey is sort of a big deal in Canada and that is not any different in post secondary schools. The small liberal arts school I attended did not have a very strong hockey team but they did actively recruit players and offer them scholarships.

Those scholarship players get a lot slack at school. They are assigned a special guidance counselor who tells them what classes to choose and they barely ever attend class and still always pass with a good mark. If I had done the same thing, I would have failed out in my first year.

Though I have not experienced it personally, I am sure that it is a very similar experience for college basketball and football players. Obviously there are always exceptions, some players love attending class, want to get an education and really take their studies seriously. Another large majority though, are only there until they can make millions in professional leagues and could not care any less about educating themselves.

On the flip side though, they are often treated like celebrities or superstars when people forget that they are just kids. They have to grow up in the spotlight, facing the media and pressure from the time they are barely in high school. Their every decision is scrutinized on national television and they are often unfairly mocked.

Take for example Steve Kerr who attended Arizona(Editor’s note: My mistake). While a student and basketball player there, his father tragically assassinated while working overseas at a university. Having to face with all this sadness, Kerr was then greeted by fans of an opposing team jeering him for having lost his father. It was one of the lowest moments in college sports history.

Another aspect where college athletes do miss out on things that most college kids get to experience is the social aspect. Most students are free to hang out with who they will, drink underage like most kids do and act a little wild at times. For college athletes, it is an entire different story. They always have to watch their backs when they are with friends because they don’t know who they can trust and who might sell them out for a story. They don’t get to party like most students do because they can’t afford to be seen in a light that would negatively impact their school. Being a college student can sometimes be a lonely lifestyle.

This is before we even mention how the NCAA is profiting on the players’ names through commercials, jerseys and simple name recognition. These kids see none of that money while the NCAA continues to make massive amounts of profits. If any player starts showing some cash, the NCAA instantly launches a probe on them that almost always leads to a suspension. People wonder why athletes are paid under the table, well if they weren’t being taken advantage of by the NCAA, then it might be a different story.

It might be hard to feel bad for the players because many of them end up making millions of dollar in the NBA, NFL or any other pro league. While that is true, it is also easy to forget that so many more never even come close to making the pros. They are just regular people like you and I who happened to be good at a sport but not good enough to make serious money out of it. For those players, they are sacrificing some of the best years of their life only to be forgotten by history as time goes on.