A student-athlete is not given anything for free. There are hours of hard work at practice, in the gym or on game day. The four or five years spent go by fast and you leave with memories and a degree that will give you a chance at your dream job, unless you become a professional athlete. But what is given through those years must be earned with a tedious work effort.
On April 24, 2014, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) approved a new law that will begin August 1, 2014. It will allow all Division I athletes, including walk-ons, to have unlimited meals and snacks. Before this enactment, only scholarship athletes were given three meals a day or a yearly stipend. Shabazz Napier, star of the UConn Men’s Basketball team, stunned reporters during a media conference when he said goes to bed hungry but is still expected to play up to his NCAA championship title capabilities.
My student peers may be angry with this new law because they are not able to understand what happens in a student-athlete’s life here on campus. This is not a cry for help, but rather a need for understanding the situation.
While in season, athletes can practice up to four hours a day, six days a week and then have to attend class. If you are caught missing class by your coaches on randomized class checks, the consequences will vary depending on the coach. But those consequences can vary from extra workouts to running Circle Road at early hours of the day.
The new law, with its inclusion of walk-ons, is extremely pivotal to me because I am a walk-on athlete here at Stony Brook. I do not participate on a full or partial scholarship. However, I experience every grueling workout and long travel trips like my teammates. I am never looked down upon or treated differently because I am not given the same monetary funds. I came to Stony Brook University to play the sport I love and hopefully graduate with a degree that will help me in my future. Sure, I had other options that did include partial to full scholarships. But I wanted to pick a school that could help me after my four years concluded.
We are not able to just skip class or not show up to practice because we are having bad days or are sick. This leaves us no time to go back to our dorm rooms or off-campus houses to make food throughout the day. So while we walk around campus, usually going from one building to the next, we have to grab food to fuel up. The high inflation of food prices causes us to have a “struggle for swipes” as most students and athletes on campus phrase the term when you are running out of meal points and the end of your semester is still a few weeks ago.
But we do not just stop for the rest of the year when we are not chasing a NCAA national championship title. We still practice for one to three hours a day, five days a week. The practices and workouts are usually more strenuous to make sure we are in the best competing form when our regular season does arrive.
As an athlete, I can attest that we hate being given anything in life for free. However, in order to play like a champion, you need to eat like a champion, which is what this new law will help us Seawolves do.