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Potter's Pitch: Inside an athlete's mind

By PJ Potter - Special to the chronicle

Being a Division I student-athlete, is it as glorious as most make it out to be? Of course, it has its perks: getting praised by peers and having “first dibs” on picking classes.

However, it’s not all about wearing the gray T-shirt around campus to brag to everyone that you are an athlete, but to show pride in the school and the hard work that has been put in.

There are many aspects of maintaining the good name of a student-athlete that most people don’t know about.  Early morning workouts are a daily routine: waking up at 5 a.m. to run the agility ladder, do numerous amounts of stadium sprints, goblet squats and grueling core workouts. The intensive workouts test the athlete to see how far he or she can go before giving in. This works into a steady progression of becoming stronger and more enduring.

Classes approach after a short while of the workout ending. By this time, the student-athletes have already been awake for a few hours. The stereotypical “jock” would sit in the back of the classroom with his or her head down to rest, meaning there is no participation or interaction within the time of the class. Hofstra student-athletes are never seen in this light as they are mandated to sit within the first three rows to ensure complete attention and involvement in class. Baseball players, to add, cannot wear a hat while classes are in session as a sign of respect and manners.

Practice comes along after morning classes, lasting anywhere from two to five hours.  Many practices contain conditioning to add on to the previous workout that morning. Once practice is over, the athlete has to go to another class and/or make time for homework, many times at study hall. Every first-year student must complete at least eight hours of study hall per week. Any other student-athlete that has a GPA below a 3.0 is required to log in study hall hours as well. This may interrupt the social life of an athlete, especially if the hours have not been logged in during the week and the weekend is approaching. This is a requirement in order to stay eligible.

Being a Division I athlete comes at a cost. A huge commitment has to be made, leading to some sacrifices. Late night hangouts with friends, as well as visits home, are less frequent simply because there is not enough time for leisure.

Athletes also face random drug testing, the timing determined a computer-generated program. The University holds no responsibility for what is in the athlete’s body. The first time an athlete tests positive for abusing recreational or street drugs, they will be suspended from playing a pre-determined amount of games based on which sport the athlete plays.

For instance, a baseball player would be suspended for six consecutive contests, but a soccer player would only sit out two games. The athlete also has to attend a minimum of three counseling conferences.

The second offense would cost the athlete a 12-month ban from playing as well as losing all scholarships for the year. Lastly, for a third and final chance, if the athlete tests positive on the drug test, all eligibility is completely lost, along with the permanent termination of scholarships.

Along with the use of drugs, the NCAA has a very strict policy about gambling. There is zero tolerance when it comes to any type of betting. If caught, the athlete is given a one-year suspension. This includes betting on games, from pee wee football to professional sports, playing cards or any type of game where money is a prize and being in a fantasy league that involves money. Student-athletes cannot accept any sort of prize or without paying a price.

These young adults are held to a high accountability. In time, these rules can teach them lessons on responsibility, manners and self-worth. Athletes are always being trained on how to not just become a better competitor, but a more well rounded person who doesn’t abuse drugs or gamble.

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