Sports stigma: The real life of a college athlete

TV shows, movies and real-life stories have commonly and inaccurately portrayed student-athletes. In 2010, the television show “Blue Mountain State,” depicted the crazed life of a fictional Division I football team and the student body, spending their time between parties at the “Goat House,” skipping classes, and even having “nerds” do their school work for them. Such media perpetuates this false idea that life for a college athlete is centered around their sports and nothing else matters.

In Oct. 2012, then-Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones tweeted, “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come here to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.”

During his time at Louisiana State University (LSU,) Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons shared a similar view as Jones in his year at the university. On Twitter, Simmons openly admitted to skipping classes during college and missing out on receiving the Wooden Award in college because he was not academically eligible.

In 2017, the University of North Carolina (UNC) was caught creating fake classes for their athletes to sign up for that were not taught by a professor.

Simmons and Jones were both athletes at large Division I programs. UNC is a well-known university and all were prioritizing their sports and athletes over their education. Events like this create a stigma surrounding the image of college athletes. Students refer to events similar to the UNC or Simmons actions and believe that is how all college athletes are.

The University of New Haven prides itself on putting the education of athletes ahead of athletic performance. In the fall, 372 Charger athletes were named to the Northeast 10 academic honor roll and 196 were named to the university’s Dean’s List for posting a 3.50-grade point average or higher.

Despite academically dedicated university athletic programs, media and outlying cases create a bad image of collegiate athletics. Student-athletes are all judged as if they are a character on “Blue Mountain State,” Cardale Jones or Ben Simmons, who skip classes and do not care about their academic performance. In reality, this is few and far between but because of those who are guilty of laying back on their academics to aid their athletic status at a university and the television shows that depict these stories, athletes face the struggles of breaking the stigma that they find themselves in.