An Athlete Responds: Athletes Must Schedule Around Time Constraints

Dear Editor:

This letter is in direct response to an editorial letter posted by Brian Rocha earlier this week regarding priority registration for athletes.  Rocha is absolutely entitled to his opinion, and he is, of course, not the only person who disagrees with giving priority registration to athletes.  However, I respectfully disagree with this point of view and feel as though those who are on this side fail to recognize the immense commitment the college athlete gives to his or her school.  While Rocha uses some large vocabulary words and some compelling language, his argument is of little substance.

The argument that Rocha makes throughout his article in which he points out the fact that athletes are “idolized” and “praised” is simply irrelevant to the matter at hand (not to mention the fact that athletes here are anything but idolized by this school’s faculty and administration and even the fellow students). This argument attempts to somehow imply that the reason athletes are petitioning for priority registration has to do with the fact that they are entitled this registration due to this said idolization.  But that is not the point at all.  The reason for athletes petitioning to get priority registration is due to the limited time slots they can take classes due to their sport.  

Rocha’s only valid argument is the fact that athletes should not be treated differently and given special privileges over other students.  However, the athlete is not being given priority registration due to some false sense of worship or appreciation of athletes over other students.  The college athlete, due to specific and rigid times of practice, training and competition, has a very limited window of times that he or she can choose to take classes. Given this fact, along with the fact that the activity creating this conflict is one in which the athlete is representing and promoting the College in a positive manner, the athlete should be given the opportunity to ensure that he can get into the few classes he can possibly take.

On the flipside, missing out on priority registration allows student athletes to get shut out by other students who may choose a particular time even though they do not have a conflict disabling them from taking the same class offered at a different time. As baseball players at this school, our options of courses are extremely limited.  Take next spring (2014) for example.  Given the times of our practices and games, we are required to be out of class by 1 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and by   11:30 a.m. on Wednesdays. We cannot take any weekend or night classes. Thus, with this schedule, we can only choose from classes offered at 8:00 a.m., 9:45 a.m., or 11:15 a.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and we can only take an 8:00 a.m. class on Wednesday.  

We are clearly limited to a much smaller timeframe than the average student at Ramapo. Athletes on other teams have incredibly similar schedules as well, putting them in the same predicament. We should be ensured that we at least get into the classes that are required for us at those particular times, since we will not be able to take them at any other time or reschedule our baseball games because of a conflict with class.

According to Rocha’s argument, the answer to this is simply that if the athlete cannot handle the scheduling conflict, he should quit the sport.  This argument fails to appreciate the significance of athletics. While Ramapo is a Division III school, it is a simple fact that athletics raise school spirit exponentially, and telling athletes to quit if they cannot get into classes for their major due to conflicts with practice is doing an incredible disservice to the entire Ramapo community.  

The other argument we have heard is that we should not spend so much time practicing if we cannot get into all the classes that we need due to our schedule. But this argument is flawed as well, since doing so would make our athletic teams uncompetitive against the rest of the New Jersey Athletic Conference, and believe it or not, our students enjoy the fact that our athletic teams do so well.

There is so much more to college than just classroom activity.  Athletes recognize other students may not be playing a sport, but they are busy as well. We are sure Rocha devotes a good amount of time to writing articles for the Ramapo newspaper each week, as he is the Arts & Entertainment editor. We absolutely feel as though things like theater and a school paper are very valuable to a college community, just like athletics are.  However, there is absolutely no way that Rocha’s position with the school paper limits his options for picking classes to the extent that playing a sport limits it for a student-athlete.  

Other students may have jobs or other out-of-school activities, but athletes at this school have to attend practice and games each and every day at times that are not determined by the athletes themselves.

The facts are very simple. Ramapo offers classes at almost 40 different time slots throughout the week. As a member of one of our athletic teams, I can choose classes from a total of seven of those times.  Missing out on a class due to not being able to register in time could inhibit my ability to take the necessary courses each semester toward obtaining my respective degree.

I think that if Rocha had taken the time to inquire as to what the athletes’ purpose is for demanding priority registration, and if he took the time to learn why the failure to allow athletes to do so affects our school in a negative manner, then maybe he would understand why the majority of his arguments are irrelevant to the issue.

Should athletes get priority registration for classes? The answer is simple-absolutely.