College Athletes: Why Stress them Out!



Universities spoon feed athletes with gilded promises while also making out checks of gold to them on the sly, oh and perish the thought if the athlete is injured and then suddenly all the help they were promised, for a degree for a profession, by staff dries up – oops! Out of luck! So, what’s a college student to do without the promise of big money, new car and lots of empty promises? Greed sounds about right. Hoping for big money in a contract, thinking that scouts might be interested in them and not realizing that most team owner are mainly focused on making money than being good role models for their players. What would any of these kids do for a million dollar contract or better yet 2 million? Poor examples are not only set by coaches and team owners but by major league players who set the tone for those to come. Going on strike if they do not get that 6 figure contract and big raise they think they deserve. So, what would happen if someone finally put the Cabash on salaries and actually made them work for the pleasure of playing a sport they claim to love?


Young college athletes learn from the best, or the greediest and are so overwhelmed with what they think will be their future they fail to see what is at the end of the yellow brick road: GREED, MONEY AND hopefully good health insurance incase they get hurt. Teachers and doctors work hard to instruct students and save lives and if they went on strike every time their unions did not pay up with big money or insurance companies skimped on payments, what would your nation’s medical care be like. Of yeah: Doctors are not any different than athletes everyone wants more and more money. Why do athletes feel they should be handed everything they want and have to not strife to earn it? Oh Yeah! Because they are athletes, good at what they do or maybe just okay and the school needs the revenue from the games and the concessions to keep the athletic department afloat.


“The pressures faced by young college athletes are too overwhelming and often drive these poor overworked students to drink, take steroids, drugs or even worse have no time for the mundane assignments required of them,” says the head coach of a small college. “Sometimes the pressure,” he continues, “ can be so unbearable, so great that while taking courses like beginning ceramics or pottery in this way they will be able to create their own casts if they have any broken bones remembering that they can put harmful stress on the players fingers and hands, and caution has to be heeded to make sure that they don’t burn themselves when using any of the tools like the kiln or ovens. Making sure they have extra accident insurance would help too. Football players might be offered a course in basic geometry in order to learn the differences between circles, diamonds and triangles and how these shapes might come in handy when reading their play books or formulating new plays. Baseball players might be offered courses in batting practice or hitting a piñata in order to strengthen their arms and enhance their batting averages. Basketball players might profit from the courses in basic shapes in order to be able to tell the difference between a sphere and a circle, which would help them find the hoop.


Athletes put themselves on the line every time they enter the playing field, the basketball court or just enduring a strenuous workout or practice. The academic curriculum and course load puts undue stress and pressure on these young people requiring them to stay up past curfew to study, to assignments and unfortunately have brain overload which might prevent them from doing what they are really in college to do and that is win games.


So, let’s be realistic and come to an understanding of how we as college coaches and college officials can lower the bar for them in order to attain some type of success. Incentives are the answer and eliminating the worry of having to live up to the high GPA of 2.0 is another way to prevent failure and insure that no one will be cut from the team. After all these athletes have a short lifespan on the field and within three or four years they will have outworn their worth and be ready for a more lucrative career working in McDonalds or even pumping gas.


Academic overload is dangerous and these young people should not have to bear the headaches, bodily aches and fear of getting cut from the team when many should have a course load of no more than one or two classes of their choice. But, these athletes provide such pleasure to spectators and bring in the funds that support the athletic department why not pay them for their skills? Getting into college must have been difficult if not traumatic for them until they either got daddy to hand over a big donation to the school or maybe someone wanted a star athlete and looked the other way when viewing their grades. Not every athlete cannot handle the workload but let’s be fair: the average athlete has to do his assignments, practice before and after class and on weekends, have weight training, conditioning and be sleep deprived. So, rather then stress them out the school should fund the bill for tutors to help them with their assignments, a massage therapist to work out their kinks and a heavy paycheck to make it worth their time. Minimum wage would not suffice after all they can get that working in Burger King or Subway. The colleges might even want to come up with pay scale based on athlete productivity, which team wins the most games and pay players accordingly. Incentives do work and paying them to score big points, practicing and doing the job they came to college for seems to be a step in the right direction.


Sports for profit that’s what it has come down too. If actors can demand their fair share of the million dollar pie then why shouldn’t young athletes get paid some big bucks too after all child stars get money to star in movies so why not pay for their services too. After all it’s only temporary. How long can they last? Legs, arms and bodies burn out, muscles can be strained, discs can rupture and even worse trigger thumb or finger from signing autographs. It’s all about money: Education needs to take a back page to the importance of paying a young superstar what he is worth. Is it really sports for profit? Have we lost sight of why people enter the sports arena? What happened to playing football, basketball and other sports because you have a passion for it? Money, Greed, Five Star Contracts and maybe even a stint as a host on ESPN. Is that what being an athlete has become? What’s Your Opinion?

 Fran Lewis


Fran Lewis: Fran worked in the NYC Public Schools as the Reading and Writing Staff Developer for over 36 years. She has three masters Degrees and a PD in Supervision and Administration. Currently, she is a member of Who’s Who of America’s Teachers and Who’s Who of America’s Executives from Cambridge. In addition, she is the author of three children’s books and a fourth that has just been published on Alzheimer’s disease in order to honor her mom and help create more awareness for a cure. The title of my new Alzheimer’s book is Memories are Precious: Alzheimer’s Journey; Ruth’s story and Sharp as a Tack and Scrambled Eggs Which Describes Your Brain? Fran is the author of 11 titles.

She was the musical director for shows in her school and ran the school’s newspaper. Fran writes reviews for authors upon request and for several other sites. You can read some of my reviews on and on under the name Gabina. Here is the link to her radio show,

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7 thoughts on “College Athletes: Why Stress them Out!

  1. Kenneth Weene

    The universities of America have become trade schools for athletes, and that has distorted much — not only for the athletes, especially the young men who are hoping to enter the ranks of the professional sports but also the entire campus atmosphere for everyone as well as depriving many young people who would normally be enjoying intercollegiate sports from taking part in those activities because they have been displaced by “ringers.” Why can’t all professional athletics offer their own ‘minor’ leagues as baseball to some extent still does and the athletes who wish to also get a college education can do so the way any person who goes from high school directly into the workforce would do it?

  2. Cynthia B Ainsworthe

    Fran, Thank you for this enlightening piece. It says a lot about the motivation of the US college and university system—get the talented high school athletes for the financial benefit of said institution. Such a sad situation. College and universities are for higher learning leading to a future career. JMHO

  3. Yves Johnson

    Great article. We often forget that many universities are “for-profit.” When my cousin played for the University of Michigan during their championship runs, the kids didn’t get any of the multimillion dollar TV contract money.

    Those who seemingly might be drafted are encouraged to get insurance to pay them if they get hurt.

    We criticize the universities but many have a great business model are highly successful. In fact, a lot of the money made by the top-tier sports programs fund the lessor known ones.

    Regardless, its the universities that make out the best.

  4. Jon Magee

    Thanks for sharing this interesting post. I gives me something of an insight into what is happening in the American colleges

  5. Micki Peluso

    Fran, wonderful expose on a travasty in this country. Sadly, it starts before college. My grandsons, who go to Catholic High School were allowed in based on their sport accutiy and given money to choose a particular school. Once in school, it’s almost as tough on these kids ages from 14-17 as it is on the college athletes. These kids get no sleep, have little free time, must maintain their grade point averages and are rarely allowed to miss a practice and definitely not a game, even in familiy emergencies.

    Then they go on to college–again picked for their sport’s prowness and talent and the pressure increases. We shouldn’t wonder why so many of our youth today turn to drugs, violence and suicide.

  6. James L. Secor

    Missing from this is the fact that these athletes don’t attend regular classes anyway, unless off season; they do have massage therapists; they do have special weight training; but most importantly, many of these athletes are using their skill to get out of poverty. The majority of these people cannot speak coherently. They carry their bad, ill-got habits developed as children and adolescents with them and have colleges and the pros cover for them, which undermines any sense of responsibility. At my alma mater, the only time the athletes don’t get any sleep is if they stay up late on their own, break curfew, get in trouble…or when they travel. Although athletes do hurt themselves, that is not the reason their careers are so short: their bodies mature quickly and wear themselves out by the late 30’s, early 40’s, mostly they become slow(er). They are skillful and proficient to an enormous degree, often enough even compared to our chosen professions, which we think we’re pretty damn good at. However, there is greed. Great drooling greed that puts a tooth cutting baby to shame. Obscene pro salaries, in most cases for playing less than 20 minutes. What is enough? [Contrary to your exception of doctors, Fran, they, too, are greedy, along with the AAFP which bowed to those who did not want to be family practitioners because the income was “not enough.” Ergo, the business model of medicine…and overwork with undercare.] The sports programs around the country hold that the income they bring in is for the entire college; as you note, balderdash. It’s for the sports programs. In tough economic times, it is not the sports programs that suffer, it is the humanities programs. Better dumb athletes than educated non-athletes (generalities here). Yet colleges have turned into vocational schools for any endeavor, not just sports. Then again, if the offer was there, how many of us would turn down a multimillion dollar contract for lots of practice (something enjoyable) and 12 mins of game (work) time? I sure as hell wouldn’t: I’m tired of being poor. At 66 yrs and 51 wks, I could easily compete at the highest level for the sport of Difficulty Getting Up Off The Floor.

  7. Linda Hales

    Being Canadian, I’m not too familiar with how this college/sports relationship works. I do recall a couple of hockey mates of my brother who were given scholarships to attend a particular American college and grades definitely took back seat to their athletic contribution to the team. Now that was many years ago and I have no idea if the standards have been improved since then. I certainly hope so. In my opinion, college is for education and sports should take a different and non-conflicting position and be governed by some other agency than colleges.

    Very interesting and illuminating piece Fran.


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