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College athletics instill core values, beliefs in participants

October 7, 2010

There are over 400 student-athletes at UW-River Falls. These student athletes represent more than just the team or sport they play. They are more than goalscorers and homerun hitters; they are tomorrow’s leaders. Competing in college athletics offers skills that go beyond the last second scoring and the thrill of a come behind, victory and they are something that should never be taken for granted.

There is often a negative aroma that many schools place too much of an emphasis on athletics while academics and other organizations are often left behind. However as a patron of both athletics and co-curricular activities, I could not disagree more; the benefits and opportunities that have been given to us here at UWRF as athletes are applicable in every area of my life.

College athletics, especially at the Division III level, provide the knowledge and life skills that last far beyond the college experience. While there are the obvious life skills such as teamwork, dedication and goal setting, there is overwhelming evidence to support that student athletes in general are more likely to succeed in other areas of life.

Take academics for example. According to the UWRF Athletic website, the University’s athletes “earned an institutional 2.946 grade point average during the 2009-2010 academic year. The grade point average for the entire UWRF student body came in at 2.923. Nearly one-half of our student athletes, 197 in total, earned a 3.00 GPA or above.”

This is truly a testament and should not be taken likely, especially when you consider the time commitment, even for a Division III athlete. Participating in athletics is a year-round joy, but it can take a toll. A typical schedule for an athlete is to go to classes, add an hour or so of weightlifting/conditioning, go to practice three hours a day, five days a week, and finally go back to the dorm or house and do homework. Plus, you may add a job or other activities on top of that.  Moreover, this is only for the offseason. During the season, add in travel times and games which can go for weekends at a time.

While I would never complain or ask anyone to feel sorry for our busy schedule, it is something to take note off, and quite frankly, it is mighty impressive for the student athletes on campus to have a higher GPA than the student body altogether.

But let’s go beyond the field and gymnasium. Teamwork. A word that is underused and certainly underappreciated. No matter where you go in life, the ability to work well and communicate with others is an asset that many employers list as the number one skill that they look for in a potential employee, according to careerbuilder.com. Sure you can work on group projects together, but nothing will teach you how to handle pressure situations more than when you are tested in the bottom of the 9th inning with a chance to win the game on the line. You look over to see a dugout filled with the people who are with you through it all, cheering you on with all of their might. There are times when you are pushed to reach that goal that seemed unattainable a month ago, but with hard work and preparation, you learn to believe that anything is possible.

The core values and beliefs that have been instilled upon me as a member of Falcon athletics is indescribable, and this is only my second year of competition.

The next time you hear anyone gripe about the renovations to stadiums or the athlete you sit next to in class complain about how tired they are, think about the benefits and excitement that athletics can bring to a college community; maybe that time and effort put towards the activity was an investment in his or her future. That investment will open the door to endless possibilities of success, achievement, drive and determination.

Go Falcons!

Comments

John Hanley on 11 Oct 2010: Athletics make this campus a better place for all, and its great that the athletes have a higher gpa! Go Falcons!!