At this year’s NCAA Convention, new standards were put in place regarding student-athlete time demands. While the legislation aims to free up time for student-athletes by eliminating any athletic activities for student-athletes over an eight hour overnight period, requiring a seven day break at the end of the season, providing a time management plan to student-athletes, and requiring one day off per week during preseason and vacation periods–it overlooks one critical factor, competitions.
As of now, the limit placed on the number of countable hours per week for student-athletes in season is 20 hours. Competitions count for 3 hours, regardless of their actual duration, and this does not include travel time. While it varies by sport, during the peak of the season some teams may have multiple games per week. When you factor in travel time, some real concern arises. For example, think about a midweek basketball game on a campus a few hours away. These student-athletes are likely not returning home until after midnight, and may very well have an 8am class the following day, not to mention a morning practice at 6am.
If the NCAA is really interested in helping student-athletes free up time, this is an element that needs to be addressed. The competition schedules in various sports are so rigorous, that the students have to miss class multiple days in a row in a given month — which is something that doesn’t set a student-athlete up for success. In addition, the added stress on the student-athlete to keep up with the demands of competition as well as their academic performance can really take a toll. By failing to address this critical component, the student-athlete experience is compromised in more ways than one.
Without restrictions placed on competition schedules, student-athletes are left with little to no time at all for at least half of the academic year (or more) to dedicate towards personal and professional development — two things which are imperative for setting a student-athlete up for a successful life after college. With many student-athletes feeling unprepared after graduation and struggling to find jobs–this is not something that should be compromised on. Is the best interest of the student-athlete really in mind? Or are we simply letting the real source of the issue slip through the net?