Student-athletes everywhere are expected to shoulder the workload of their academic peers while traveling across the country and representing their school on the field.
It’s amazing that these athletes have the time to finish their homework, let alone study for quizzes, midterms and finals.
As we approach Thursday night’s game against the Washington Huskies, I ask: Where is the line between student and athlete?
As the Trojans prepare to face the Huskies tonight, it’s safe to assume that the football players will not be attending class. Since the Trojans have practice in the mornings on weekdays, most student-athletes have class in the afternoons and evenings. With a 6 p.m. kickoff, there’s no chance that players will have an opportunity to attend those classes.
Luckily for the Trojans, they will have played three weeknight games in a row at home. If they were playing on the road, they would most certainly have to miss at least one or two extra days of class.
If you’re a USC student, then many of you know that we are currently in the middle of midterm season. This means there’s a pretty good chance that some players will be forced to miss midterms, an injustice to both the student-athlete and their peers.
Recently, UCLA’s head coach Jim Mora brought up the topic of weeknight games. His team will face back-to-back Thursday night games after a bye this week. Mora was not happy with whomever was in charge of UCLA’s schedule.
After his team’s loss to Arizona State, Mora went on a rant about how the scheduling was an injustice to his players. “It’s unbelievable we’re calling these kids student-athletes,” Mora said. “Yet we force them to miss six days of school.”
Mora has a great point. How can anyone expect a student to keep up with his or her classes if he or she is forced to miss six days of school? Even I can’t imagine what missing three consecutive days of classes would feel like.
Most skeptics will point out that student-athletes are at a university to play sports and eventually go pro. However, the reality is that most players will never go professional in their sport, especially football.
There are currently 99 players listed on the Trojans’ roster, according to USCTrojans.com. The chances of all 99 players going professional are slim to none.
Though other sports, such as volleyball and soccer, are faced with weeknight games, they are not affected as much as football. This is mainly because their games are usually scheduled for Friday and Sunday nights. Preparation for football is also drastically different than for other sports. I remember in high school, our football team would meet at 3 p.m. to start preparing for a 7 p.m. game.
Weeknight football games also put pressure on students to skip class in order to go watch the game they paid for. I know I am not alone as the only person who has class during the football game. Luckily, my class is partially online, so the professor assigned us work to have done by Thursday instead of meeting in class. However, I’m sure that other teachers were not so willing to cut class because of a football game.
After all, the main point of attending school is for the education, not for football.
Weeknight games are a new concept as networks look for ways to increase their revenue. The Trojans didn’t play their first weeknight game until 2006, but they have played on a weeknight every season since. With the creation of the Pac-12 network and subsequent deals with Fox Sports and ESPN, weeknight games are not going anywhere.
Similarly to how the NFL is extending its audience by adding Thursday Night Football, ESPN and Fox are hoping to accomplish the same thing with Thursday night college games. Unfortunately, these networks are more concerned with the athlete aspect of the term student-athlete.
Until the University decides to step up and defend the student, networks will continue to schedule weeknight games. This means student-athletes are faced with an even harder task of balancing sports and academics.
Someone needs to remind these networks and universities that school comes first, not sports.
Nick Barbarino is a senior majoring in business administration. His column, “Beyond the Arc,” runs Thursdays.
Darian Nourian is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism. He is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Persian Persuasion,” runs Fridays.