Kudos to 4-year student-athletes

Daniel Starkand, senior sports writer

Daniel Starkand, senior sports writer

I played baseball at Chapman my freshman year. I went to the four-hour practices every day, weight training a couple mornings every week, Friday afternoon games and Saturday doubleheaders.

I didn’t have a job, my grades suffered a bit and I didn’t have much of a social life.    But those were the sacrifices I was willing to make to continue to play the sport I love. That season, I pitched five innings on a 19-20 team that failed to make the conference tournament. Fifteen weeks of practice five days a week, four hours a day – that’s approximately 300 hours of practice for 15 outs on the mound.

That was my last season playing baseball, but there are so many other student-athletes at Chapman and across the country that put in the same amount of work I did, and maybe even got less playing time but stuck with their particular sports for the love of the game.

Student-athletes, particularly ones at Chapman, don’t get nearly enough credit both in the media and around campus.

When Chapman teams are bad, the Chapman community often looks down on the teams. But what a lot of people don’t understand is that no one feels worse than the athletes. As an athlete, there’s nothing that bothered me more than losing. I did not put in all those hours of practice to lose, but sometimes that’s how it works out. Sometimes the other team is better on that day and sometimes you beat yourself, but regardless of the reason, no team plays to lose on purpose.

It’s fair to be harsh on a team or player that is not performing up to their level of capability, as the goal of all college athletes should be to reach their full potential, but the amount of time the athletes put into their respective sports to do that often goes overlooked.

The average DI football player spends about 43.3 hours per week doing football-related activities, whether it’s practicing, lifting weights, watching film or playing games, according to Forbes Magazine. That is more than a full-time job, and not only are the players not paid for any of those hours, those hours are not acknowledged accurately by their respective universities.

Junior Conner Larkin, who plays on both the football and baseball team at Chapman, said that the hours put in at the DIII level are not much different than DI. Having responsibilities for both football and baseball, Larkin said he puts in between 54 and 60 hours per week for the two sports.

Yet at the DIII level there are no athletic scholarships, and no special treatment in the classroom for athletes. In 2012, DIII athletes had an 87 percent academic success rate, compared to 81 percent for DI, according to the NCAA website.

Being a student-athlete for a year, I saw how difficult it is to have success both on the field and in the classroom, and I don’t think people quite understand that unless they play or are around a varsity or club sport. So, while success on the field is obviously what every athlete strives for, and what every fan hopes for, I don’t think we give our athletes enough credit for everything they accomplish, especially when they aren’t winning games.

2 Comments

  • Welcome to the life of a performing arts major. We will have 40 plus hours of rehearsal for four weeks, plus shows and outside practice time, and often two of more times a year. There are virtually no scholarships on any level despite level of performance (save music programs), and we do all of our work for 0, maybe 1 credit. Yet people are so quick to judge us on our performances and even in our choices of major. Not to diminish your achievements- it’s incredible that you and your teammates are willing to put so much of your time and effort into what you love. It’s a shame that our colleagues, and our university, don’t genuinely support our efforts within our passions.

  • I can relate to Melissa’s comment. As a performing arts major, we work over 40 hours a week in rehearsals, tech, performances, and individual study. This work is counted as 1 credit, even though it involves way more work put in for a semester-long class. On top of this we work part-time and often full-time jobs and deliberately reduce our social interactions in order to get our degree, pay off debt, while getting some sleep along the way. We are never given credit in media (besides the occasional brief, boring summary in The Panther), and our marketing is never enough to actually draw students in to watch us perform. When students find something “problematic” with our productions, criticism comes raining in despite these critics never having watched our previous work and therefore not having an accurate depiction of who CoPA students are.

    Look, I understand your frustration. I used to be heavily in sports (although not at your level of experience) and know how hard you work. But my problem is that this lack of credit is something we performing majors have endured and accepted the moment we began spending over 50 grand on a degree that is mocked and scoffed at universally. Sports are lauded in our country – cities love them because they rake in revenue and customer loyalty. Performing arts, on the other hand, are considered useless and barely funded at all in most states. From what I understand Chapman doesn’t support sports as enthusiastically as other universities, and I get that it dampens our school spirit. I certainly hope that this doesn’t create apathy among the athletes on campus – I acknowledge and wholly recognize that sports are vital and integral to mental, emotional, and physical stamina and that they develop us into better people and better contributors to society, just as the arts do.

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