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The Truth About College Athlete Stereotypes

Throughout my time so far as a college athlete, I have experienced many misconceptions and stereotypes that people sometimes have of student athletes.

As a student-athlete, it is often difficult to “fit in” with a student body of non-athletes because of your limited opportunities to participate in campus life activities. Due to this lack of interaction, there are often perceptions formed between student-athletes and the rest of the students.

Below are some of the many misconceptions that I have personally encountered about student-athletes.


College athletes only care about their sport.

Some people believe that college athletes are only there to play their sport. Sports may be the reason that athletes got recruited to the school, but the reason they are there is just like every other student—to get an education. Very few college athletes have the opportunity to go pro, so although that may be a dream for many, athletes’ first priority is to get a degree to pursue a career after their collegiate sport ends.

Some athletes even have the opportunity to join other clubs and groups outside of their sport, proving that just like other students, college athletes crave socialization and have passions beyond their respective sports. College athletes also must maintain a certain GPA requirement and there’s a minimum number of credits they must be taking each term because school must remain the top priority.


Student-athletes have tutors that do all their homework for them.

This is definitely a misconception because having someone complete assignments for an athlete is illegal through the NCAA and could result in them losing their eligibility. The last thing a college athlete wants is not to be able to play the sport that they love, so having tutors complete homework for them is a risk that doesn’t want to be taken.

The reason that many universities implement academic support centers and tutors for student-athletes is because of the busy schedules that student-athletes endure. Often times, athletes are taking the same course load as other students, but don’t have the time to attend a professor’s office hours or to go to review sessions because they have 20 hours of practice a week.

Academic support is very beneficial to student-athletes because the reality is that they are exactly that: student athletes. Student comes first, and if athletes don’t maintain their grades they won’t be able to compete in their sport.


College athletes get everything handed to them.

Once again, receiving free gifts other than gear and certain allowed items is against NCAA compliance. College athletes must work for everything they receive and everything must be earned.

Athletes don’t receive any sort of special treatment in the classroom other than being allowed to make up missed work that they missed due to travel for the sport. Being given anything or being treated differently due to the fact that you are a student-athlete is against NCAA rules.

Some people also believe that every college athlete is on a full ride scholarship. In reality, there are also only a certain number of full scholarships per team for Division I athletics, so most members of the team aren’t even on a full ride, as many people believe. Also, Division III sports don’t offer any sort of athletic scholarship and Division II school offer partial scholarships. 


College athletes don’t do well in school. 

Along with the misconception that student-athletes are only there for their sport, some people believe that every athlete is your typical “dumb jock”—cocky and unintelligent. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that college athletes even do better in school than the general student body because they have the discipline and work ethic to get good grades. With a rigorous course schedule, it is essential to know your priorities and maintain good time management. Athletes often don’t have time to do anything other than study or play their sport, so those are the two areas that they excel in. 

These misconceptions I have described are not the opinion of everyone, these are just some common ideas that I’ve heard and encountered during my time as a student-athlete. The goal of many universities and athletic departments is to bridge the gap between athletes and the rest of the student body. One of the first steps in doing so, is debunking many of the common stereotypes about college athletes.

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