College Athletics

College years are associated with an increased risk of both mental and physical health complications. This is because of decreased sports participation in college when compared to high school. It is anticipated that there is a correlation between the decline of vigorous physical activity and mental and physical complications.

Even though measures call for increased participation of college students in sports activities, there are concerns that athletics’ spending in colleges is increasing faster than academic spending (Downs and Ashton pg 1).

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Colleges are charged with the responsibility of imparting knowledge on the students and they are the main gatekeepers for success in any career. But financial strains are experienced frequently on these institutions. These threaten the existence of these institutions. The financial strains have forced these colleges to explore innovative ideas of raising finances for the smooth running of college activities (Simplicio pg 1).

Growing concern has been focused on the observation that there is a consistent tendency of college athletes to underperform relative to the other college students (Shulman & Bowen pg 658).

There are potential risks that college students are exposed to as a result of reduced sports participation, which may vary from increased risk of mental health problems to development of physical health issues. Studies indicate that a substantial number of students become overweight in the course of their college studies.

This condition is contributed by a number of factors which include poor dietary choices and reduced exercise activities. This raises concern because when these overweight college students leave college, there are high chances that they will become obese. This exposes them to the consequences of obesity which in most cases are negative and long term (Downs & Ashton pg 1).

The recent economic crisis has witnessed a rise in tuition fees in most colleges as well as formulation strategies to reduce spending through the reduction of staff members. This growing need for finances has forced colleges to establish alternative measures of increasing sources of funding. These measures in most cases may not be academic related but are from different areas. The most common of these alternative sources of funding are big time sports program and research grant programs.

Sports programs that are successful, in most cases those that create national championship, are crucial in that they produce millions of dollars to the institution. A great portion of the money is in most cases used in the development of the university but some portion of it is used to offer scholarships, mostly to the college athletes (Simplicio pg 3).

College athletics are important because they not only promote the physical and emotional health of the college students but also offer an alternative source of income to reduce the financial strains that threaten the smooth running of institutions. Thus, it is important that higher learning institutions should embrace college athletics. A college athletics program with a rationale of furthering the development of the student’s physical fitness is called for.

Colleges attempt to find a fine balance between the financing initiatives and academic practices. College participation in athletics has a greater impact that goes way beyond the college. The criteria used in admitting students to colleges, in most cases, depend on high academic excellence, and in some cases athletic talent is also considered. The high school fraternity which is composed of students, teachers and parents is always on the lookout for these signals from colleges.

When leading learning institutions indicate that academic prowess can be used as entry criteria, the potential applicants will place more emphasis on these activities. The rewards offered because of accomplishments in sports validate the notion that sporting activities is the road to opportunity (Shulman & Bowen pg 659).

If unchecked, pupils and students alike are likely to get the message that success is not brought about by focus on academics but rather on development of athletic prowess (Wilkinson pg 1). The consequence of unchecked intensification of athletics programs is the possibility of college athletics losing less relevance to educational experiences and in the long run contradicting the mission of the institution.

A lot of consideration should be aimed at the way admissions office focus on the athletic side of the admission process. Single minded focus on a particular sport should be placed lower on the priority list when conducting the admission process (Shulman & Bowen pg 666).

Colleges that prosper in sports in most cases recruit athletes who are gifted so that they can raise their chances of increased success in the sports arena. It is believed that success produces more success, and this success is converted into financial stability. This has gone to the extremes of finding head coaches who are paid more than the university presidents.

In the U.S. the university presidents in the public sector are paid $436,111 and their counterparts in the private sector are paid $358,746. These values diminish when compared to the $2.8 million guaranteed annual contract that Jeff Tedford who is the football coach in the University of California is paid.

In the top 120 schools alone, the average salary of a football coach is estimated at $1.36 million. To emphasize this point, it is important to note that while the average salary of a university president went up by about 2.3%, the average salary of a coach in a major school went up by about 28% in 2009 alone.

Since 2007, coaches’ salaries have increased by 46%. Focus is also drawn to the comparison of the coaches’ salary when compared with those of full professors with doctorate degrees. These differences are due to the fact that coaches when compared to the faculty and the presidents bring in relatively more money and as such substantial rewarding is justifiable (Simplicio pg 3).

Despite the fact that college sports present the potential to college athletes to develop a career, college sports also present the risk of chronic injuries that the athletes endure throughout their careers. Athletes in most college sports will in most cases participate in one particular sporting activity.

Thus, injuries that they incur in the course of the sport will be concentrated in one particular region of the body. A steady rise in the injuries has been reported by the NCAA athletic department and has been linked to single sporting activity.

In the past five years, the number of injury treatments in the Montclair state university in New Jersey has doubled annually with 4,713 in the previous year. Recent years have witnessed a shift from the habit of limiting practices to seasons of about three to four months to continuous year-round training. This has seen an increase in the athletic trainer requirements to include not only early morning and late night practices but also record keeping of athletes’ medical history and treatment.

These injuries which normally lead to complicated medical histories in many instances demand the intensive care of athletic trainers and physicians. This requires a lot of money and the colleges have to dig deep in their pockets for treatment and hire of additional staff members (Libby pg 1).

Overuse is injury which occurs from sports that require the use of a particular muscle leading to repeated injuries to a specific part of the body. Overuse and the complications that come with it require individualized attention. For example, at the University of Georgia, injured athletes have to undertake different steps in an attempt to establish the cause of injury. The steps include; a blood test to establish indications of vitamin deficiency, a bone scan, and other diagnostic tests like MRI.

It becomes part of the responsibility of the trainer to create preventive strategies to stop the re-occurrence of the injury. Having determined the source of the injury, the athletic trainers are tasked with the role of deciding the course of treatment as well as finding out how best to keep the athletes in shape without causing any further aggravation on the injury.

Athletics in college are important for both the students who are considering a career in athletics and those pursuing careers in other sectors. It is the duty of the college to find a balance of academic excellence as well as accommodate the students who are pursuing athletic related careers. The college should preferably be a non-profit generating organization, so that if the sporting activity is in any way used to generate finances it should not compromise the academic objectives of the institutions.

Works Cited

Downs, Andrew and Ashton Jennifer. “Vigorous physical activity, sports participation, and athletic identity: implications for mental and physical health in college students.” Journal of Sport Behavior 34.3 (2011): 228-249.

Libby, Sander. “An epidemic of injuries plagues college athletes.” Chronicle of Higher Education 58.8 (2011)

Shulman, James L. and Bowen, William G. “The game of life: college sports and educational values.” In Glenn Cheryl, Making sense-a real-world rhetorical reader (Third edition). Boston, MA: Bedford Books, 2010. Print.

Shulman, L. James and Bowen G. William. “How the playing field is encroaching on the admissions office.” In Glenn Cheryl, Making sense-a real-world rhetorical reader (Third edition). Boston, MA: Bedford Books, 2010. Print.

Simplicio, Joseph. “New ideas that are academically sound are good, those that bring in more money are even better.” Education 131.3 (2011): 533-537.

Wilkinson, Signe. “Family tree”. Cartoon. Universal Press. 2011. Web. 25 March 2011 http://www.cartoonistgroup.com/store/add.php?iid=30541