An Athlete Responds: Athletics and Academics are Hard to Juggle

Dear Editor: 

One of the most stressful things about being in college is making sure your schedule for the upcoming semester is a good fit. Want to know what makes that task even more stressful? Picking classes when you have practices, games or meets to work around.

Being a student athlete is an extremely hard thing to balance in college, even at the Division III level. I am a sophomore on the Ramapo swim team, and it is often very challenging to find the classes I need at the times that fit accordingly with my demanding schedule. Although I am not required by the school to participate in these extracurricular activities, my teammates and I work hard every day, multiple times a day, to represent our school.

 We are not trying to take classes away from others; we simply want to pick our classes so they line up with our athletic schedule. I understand that not everyone is as big of a sports fan as I am, but it is unfair for someone who has not experienced the hardship of being a college athlete to criticize those that choose to partake in representing their school and achieving goals they have had since childhood.

All athletes share a unique understanding of what it takes. We are simply looking for a privilege we have earned.

In his article, Brian Rocha states, “If the time management proves to be too much, that is simply a personal problem that should not be pushed on their fellow students.” How exactly are we supposed to construct an academic schedule that lines up perfectly with our athletic schedule if we are not given a head start?

None of us are trying to take classes from others. We are trying our best to put together a schedule that will fit so we do not have to miss practices or other classes.

The NCAA and Ramapo require us to pass a certain amount of credits per semester while maintaining a proper GPA. It is extremely hard to accomplish these things, along with our athletic goals, when we are not even given the chance to choose classes that fit with our schedule.

Brian also says, “Being an athlete is a privilege bestowed on the truly gifted; between practice, games and travel, athletes find trouble achieving balance in their education, but as a non-athlete, I say that is too bad.”

Being an athlete is not a privilege; being an athlete is something we have earned through hard work and dedication. Our athletic achievements come from practicing and working hard to become better, not only as athletes, but also as people. We deserve priority registration in order to have the ability to work around our rigorous schedule and represent our school that we take pride in.

There have been many instances in which my teammates, myself included, miss practice, leave practice early, or come late to practice due to scheduling conflicts. This is detrimental to our sports because athletes are also required to participate in a certain amount of practices per week in order to play.

How are we supposed to improve when we don’t have the time to practice because of class? We are not claiming to be better than anyone who isn’t an athlete, and we are not trying to steal your classes. Athletes just want what they deserve, and that is a fair chance not only in the classroom, but also on the field, court and pool.