With the new school year starting it is a good time to think about how academics and athletics fit together.
When playing a sport in college, how can you make sure you don’t find yourself uttering the phrase, “I am on the field, but I am supposed to be in the classroom right now.”
NCAA rules prevent you from missing class for practice, but how does this play out in real life? Will you be able to get the classes you need and still be able to be at practice every day? You will miss classes for games.
A Natural Tension
At every school there will be a natural tension between the expectations of your professors and your coach. Each believes their requirements are the most important ones to fulfill. Most professors work with you and your athletic schedule. There are a few sticklers at every institution. For example, if the class took a quiz on game day, the professor would give you a zero. Coaches and upper classmen can help you work through most of these situations. There are some majors at each school though, that overlap so much that it makes it difficult to be part of that major and athletics.
Don’t be shy, ask the coach during the recruiting process. Are there any majors that don’t work well with your sport?
At the last school where I coached, for instance, there were a couple majors that didn’t fit with athletics and I was upfront with players interested in those majors. Music and choir majors could not do both because the classes and performances overlapped with practices and games considerably. I had many education majors come through my program, but it was a challenge for them their junior and, especially, their senior year as they began student teaching. Upper level education classes were taught in the late afternoons when we practiced. I loved having science majors on my teams, but sometimes their labs would run late and they would miss portions of practice.
You may not think this is important now, but trust me, it will be. Make sure you ask the coach if your major will work with the team’s schedule. Usually the conflicts don’t arise until the junior or senior year, so be aware early what those potential problems may be. You may not be able to miss class for practice, but a coach has no obligation to play you if you are not at practices preparing with your teammates for games.
The routine for a college student-athlete is very structured. Expect to wake up early, work out, spend your day in classes, go to practices, spend your evenings studying and then to bed. Your life will be far different from those students who do not play. You will have little free time. Generally, academics and athletics work together well, just make sure you have asked the appropriate questions up front so there are no surprises.
Next, take a look at The Time Commitment of College Athletics.
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