Leading the Horse to an Empty Lake

Is “Student Athlete” the correct label, anymore?


By Joelle Cabasa, Photographer/Videographer


Fact: Student athletes fulfill their manifest destiny… as pull-cart mules.

Europe in the Georgian era (1700s – 1800s) is today’s college sports.  Before the calmer times of the Victorian era, Europe’s colonialism was rampant across Asian countries.

Colonialism, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “control by one power over a dependent area or people.”

Corralled into a pool of “opportunity,” student athletes lose their right in the recruitment process under the long-lost ideas of fair market value.  Instead, they are given scholarships based almost entirely on their athletic performance, while millions of dollars are raked in by the athletic department.  

Pretty low-key issue, right?

Remember Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley?  You heard right — he and his coaching staff are awaiting a $9 million severance paycheck, even though there was still four years left on his contract and incoming athletic support was projected to be about $15 million.  

These big financial investments subsidize the coaches outrageous salary or contracts to boost the success of their sports program.  

Is this remotely fair?

Present day student athletes are exploited from the moment they commit to the sports program.  Expectations include, but are not limited to, good academic standing, individual athletic performance, exorbitant time commitment, noble character and accurate representation of university standards, as well as a willingness to maintain emotional and mental stability for the sake of program success.

Not too much to ask, right?

With so much at stake, a closer look at recent events is necessary to understand the huge investment these students make just to receive a decent education.  The time commitment required by student athletes can make them vulnerable. So, should these individuals be called “athletic students,” instead?  

Titles and responsibilities are skewed, money is passing through everyone except the “performer,” and it is the student athlete who is receiving the least protection.

The scuffle between a head coach and his player at Morehead State was a great example of the inconsistent, inverse relationship that raises so much discussion with the media and nationwide university officials. View the quick clip here.

Is this just the progression of an entertainment-driven society?  Or is it truly for the love of the game?

All of the above could be true, but we can recognize as a society that we might be pushing these student athletes too far just for the sake of selfish entertainment.  

How about fair treatment now?

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