Madness in College Athletics Isn't Confined to March

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The basketball arena is packed with a sellout crowd of over 13,000 cheering fans. The television cameras capture the game for the entire nation. A horn blares, and the game, which was supposed to be a blowout, is now in overtime. The pressure is huge, because if the underdog wins, it would make history. Both teams are anxious, but focused, knowing that one misstep, misjudgment, or misfire could make or break the season, and everything they have worked for all year.

Such was the scene during the recent ‘March Madness” game, between #4 seeded Syracuse, and #13 seeded Vermont, a.k.a. the ‘Cinderella Story,’ of this year’s NCAA tourney. The Catamounts, who were not expected to make much noise during the tournament, opened it with a bang, after securing a win over powerhouse Syracuse in the final seconds of overtime.

Now imagine, a player on Vermont’s super squad. He has spent the past few years working nonstop to get to this point in his basketball career, and it has finally arrived. However, after the cheering, congratulations, and celebrations, he must go back to school, and finish studying for midterms, which happens to coincide with the post-season schedule.

When fans watch March Madness, or any other college sporting event, it is safe to say that most don’t look at their TVs, and think about how the athletes will spend the bus ride home trying to catch up on the schoolwork they missed so they could compete in the away game.

However, this is the reality of a college student-athlete. There are constant obligations to fulfill, and expectations to be met, on every level, and most of the time, the reality is stressful.

“Athletes have additional time constraints, and pressure to perform not only academically, but athletically….and then there’s the stress that their body undergoes,” said Lauren Haas, director of student-athlete support services at Northeastern University.

Haas also pointed out that student-athletes face a strain to try and lead the life of a normal college student, even though they have additional requirements. Student-athletes often have similar obligations to the average student, in the classroom, and in the workforce.

Academically, athletes must complete the same amount of schoolwork as their peers, although they have less time to complete it, and they miss classes to participate in scheduled competitions. Most professors do not offer an extension on the workload.

Financially, many athletes have jobs to offset tuition costs, which they must juggle into a busy schedule.
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