Mar 072004
Authors: Katrice Thomas

Editor’s Note: It has often been said that athletes have it

easy. To dispel that presumption Collegian Sports asked staff

writer and track and field athlete Katrice Thomas to take us inside

the regime of the common student-athlete.

If the university would take a poll on who was living the easy

life on campus and choice A was the students, and choice B was the

scholarship athletes, who would top the polls?

Students need jobs to pay for school, while the school pays for

the athletes. The athletes travel to places like Florida and Hawaii

free of charge, while the students barely can afford living costs.

Furthermore, athletes often are excused from classes and can make

up tests so they can travel to a game or a meet or a match, while

someone pretty much has to die in order for a student to make up a


Being that I am a scholarship athlete I find these statements

very true, all except the one about sports being easy. Nothing

comes easy in the world of sports, just as nothing comes easy when

one is trying to do well in school, so why would combining the two

make for an easy life?

I don’t want to bore you with a pity song on how hard athletes

work. I just want to provide a more in depth look at the

technicalities of being a student-athlete.


The one thing every person who attends a college or university

has in common is school. No matter who you are, it should be a

priority to at least attempt to do well in school. So what is the

factor the sets a student-athlete apart from students?

“I think that the athletes have to put in more time,” said CSU

high jumper Jenny Higgason. “Aside from the two or three hours at

practice, you still have weight-lifting, maybe two hours of study

table three times a week, among other things.”

People don’t normally think about the extra things; What the

people see is the product of hours and hours of hard work.


As a freshman I was taken through a crash course of things I

could do, and things I couldn’t do. But before I even entered the

world of college, I knew what I was going to do. I would sign the

national letter of intent, and would run track at Colorado State

University. I wasn’t aware of the many rules that I had to adhere

to. After our first rules and regulation meeting, which may have

lasted about three hours, I felt as if I had signed away the rights

to my life, but I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

“Basically the NCAA owns you,” said CSU heptathlete Cristina

Gourdin. “One rule says that if someone else photographs us and

uses it in anyway to receive a profit then we can lose our amateur

status, and lose our scholarships. And unlike what a lot of people

think we can’t receive gifts of any sort from anyone for playing

our sport.”

The list of rules is as long as a kid’s Christmas list times

ten. All the rules aren’t all bad, though.

“I think that you should have to keep your academics up,”

Gourdin said.

And even though the list of substances that you can’t take is

longer than the rules and regulations list, she believes that they

too are a necessity. Another aspect that student-athletes must deal

with is the pressure.


Athletes are always eager to celebrate in the moment of triumph,

but they also are just as eager to hound at mistakes and defeat.

This type of pressure can be overwhelming, and coupled with the

pressure of school and the pressure the coaches and teammates, can

become unbearable.

“People look at athletes differently and expect more,” Higgason


And who wouldn’t agree with that statement? Take our Division I

neighbors in Boulder. The entire Colorado team didn’t participate

in the alleged rapes and obscene recruiting parties that have

haunted the school recently, but the entire university was put in

the spotlight and just being a member of the football team subjects

the athletes to a negative vibe.

“We’re not considered individuals, we are considered a team,”

Gourdin said.

“My coach always says that no matter where you are, and what

you’re doing you represent the university,” Higgason added.

By the time athletes are done with their college careers they

will have been the focus of hundreds of thousands of pairs of

eyes-eyes that are watching and analyzing their every move.

The athlete has been glorified as this person who has it all. We

have scholarships, we get to travel and we get the time to make

ourselves better at our chosen sport. But we appear to have more,

because even with the extra hours, the bumps, bruises and broken

arms, it’s still about being the best we can be and having fun in

the sports we do.

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