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Monday, March 8, 2021


College athletes balance study, practice time

David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

Athletes fight for excellence at every practice and game they play. This is especially true for UH Football, which seems poised to rock the scoreboards this year.

Just look at the football season opener’s final score against Southern University, a whopping win for the Cougars with 62-13, followed a week later by a 22-13 win against conference rival Temple.

But all of this practice time for an athlete to further themselves in their sport interrupts crucial study time.

By requiring intense practice hours that can interfere with study  and homework time, student athletes can sometimes receive a subpar education.

However, athletes can also receive some fantastic scholarship opportunities for athletic excellence, propelling them into a great school with great educational prospects, like UH.

So it can be hard to sympathize with student athletes having a hard time in school when faced with the notion that they often get fantastic scholarship opportunities that many students do not.

Yet there are three major time consumers causing struggle in the life of a student athlete. One of their academic issues stems from having too many time commitments.

All those extracurricular events involved with their sport of choice can draw on the time needed to study.

And let’s face it: most student athletes would like to savor their free time like other students. If a student needs downtime — or time to socialize with friends — they have to write it into their schedules or find themselves drowning in piles of homework that was not done because of a lack of time.

When test days roll around, it can be hard for the classic university athlete to keep up if they haven’t had time to study. That goes without saying for most students who have no time study.

But the largest factor hurting the modern American student athlete is the preconceived ideal that sports are more important than academics.

According to the 2010 Delta Cost Project — a study at the American Institutes for Research — schools involved in the Big East spent an average of just more than $102,000 spent per athlete, but only an average of $17,620 per regular student.

Now UH is part of the American Athletic Conference.

But an athletics program can be helpful. The sense of spirit that comes from individuals screaming at a game brings students closer together, creating one of the best forms of camaraderie.

Scholarships help student athletes get an education they otherwise might not be able to afford. The best thing a college sports program can offer its athletes is the chance to reach public exposure through television.

This publicity provides an opportunity for student athletes to be seen by recruiters in hopes that the athlete will “go pro.”

Look at one of UH’s own, Case Keenum. Now a quarterback for the Houston Texans, he is one of the all-time best quarterbacks in UH history who got his big break in college.

However, it took him six years to get his degree in Kinesiology-Sports Administration with a minor in Business Administration before he made that leap to the professional football world.

It is obvious that sports can interfere with school.

UH offers an array of tutoring opportunities for student athletes. According to the UH Cougars web page, the Academic Center for Excellence is a unit of Academic Services geared toward student athletes and has a staff including “six full-time academic counselors, a senior learning specialist, two part-time learning assistants and a full-time tutoring coordinator who assist over 350 UH student athletes in 16 sports.” The hard part is finding the time to get help.

But it might not be such a huge issue at UH, where all freshman student athletes have mandatory study hall hours and study hall time is designed around each individual team. There are even 20 part-time tutors available to Cougar student athletes.

All in all, football isn’t going away anytime soon — as it shouldn’t — but student athletes need to continue to receive the time they need to further their education through studying.

It is imperative that universities keep this in mind. Give student athletes tutorial and study time, and remember academics come first, not second.

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I couldn’t agree more, and it seems UH does, too.

Opinion columnist Rachel Lee is a English sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]

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