Aug. 23, 2005
This summer as I had opportunity to watch the construction on the West Zone – it brought to mind, a pet peeve, about what I believe to be, generally, an unintentional disservice toward student-athletes that college athletics promotes through year-round training regimens. In times past, there was not year round training for student-athletes. That didn’t mean that past student-athletes didn’t work and train hard – keep in mind, that at one time there was no 20-hour restriction on practice. Yet, classes, studying, etc. were the same as we find them today. So, even without year-long training there was very significant rigor and effort, particularly, without a 20-hour practice limit during the school year.
However, during summers of past, student-athletes were able to return home for 6-8 weeks. During that time, most would find work, save their money, and return to school for August practice. As I watched the West Zone workers, and in particular the steelworkers, my mind drifted back to a summer that I worked on the Arkansas River Project, working as a steelworker, on the Lock below Dewitt, Arkansas. On site at 7:00 a.m., 95+ degree heat/high humidity – generally off work around four, unless overtime was required. After work, like most young people, we’d find ways to enjoy ourselves. Nevertheless, whether you were in bed at 9:00 p.m. or beyond midnight, you still were on site at 7:00 a.m. – and, no one cared whether you played football or not – you’d better be there. That is, if you wanted a job and get paid. And, if you were going to make it through most of the year, you had to rely upon what you made in those 6-8 weeks of summer and, you still had to find time to do the voluntary workouts to be in condition ready to play in August.
However, through year-round training, I do believe college athletics have rendered a disservice to our student-athletes by taking away, in most part, work related responsibilities. The lessons learned in learning how to find and hold a job, saving money, and overall responsibility are lessons that can only be learned by being in the workforce. By taking young people out of workplace experiences through year-round training, we take away opportunity to learn life-long lessons.
However, I don’t have an answer to this issue. I’m just expressing an opinion without a viable solution. I recognize that if we don’t follow the existing practices found in college athletics – then our team would be significantly disadvantaged. Unfortunately, in the long term, it is our young people who are disadvantaged.
Terry Don Phillips
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