The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

It’s All About the Money: Schools Don’t Care About the Players

When college athletes were awarded the right to profit off of their names, images and likenesses a couple of years ago, a common refrain echoed throughout the opposing camp.

“They’re already getting a free education, what more do they need?”

To me, that statement is intentionally ignoring the truth, that collegiate sports programs reap the rewards of using these players as fodder for their teams while student-athletes are left little time to take advantage of the resources that they’re supposedly there for.

Some of the best institutions in the nation, like Duke and Texas, are arguably more known for their perennially-dominant athletic programs than their academics, which puts pressure on student-athletes to take advantage of their school’s resources, whether it’s the best professors in the country or quality mental health and future planning resources.

Cornerback Richard Sherman, who played five seasons for the Stanford Cardinal, said that constant pinballing between workouts, practices and lectures doesn’t allow student athletes to take advantage of the free, world-class education that’s provided to them.

“You wake up in the morning and you have weights at this time,” he said. “Then, after weights, you go to class. After class, you go to grab a quick bite to eat. Then … you go straight to meetings, and after meetings you go to practice, and after practice you go to try to get all the work done you had throughout the day.”

If schools cared more about the players than their on-field results, they wouldn’t jam-pack the schedules of 19-year-olds to the point where they’re missing out on some of the greatest educational opportunities available to anyone.

And the missed opportunities don’t start in college. At the high school level, after-school study sessions are replaced by hours-long training, free time is filled up by physical therapy and open weekends are packed by scout camps.

Often, the recruiting process starts well before high school – sometimes even before junior high. According to George Dorhmmann, a Pulitzer Prize-winning sports writer, some recruits are first scouted at age 10, almost a decade before they first suit up for a college team.

The recruiting process itself is also mentally taxing. According to psychologist Nick Kenien, the constant pressure for student athletes to perform so that powerhouse programs can notice them is compounded by parents and coaches with high expecations.

“Even if [the athletes] try to talk about something else the conversation always gets back to: ‘Have you practiced today? Have you trained today?’” Kenien said in an interview with the York Dispatch. “So, they feel the pressure and start to lose that joy.”

Once athletes reach the next level, that joy isn’t guaranteed to come back. According to a 2022 study by the NCAA, 40% of male athletes and 61% of female athletes cited mental health as a reason for transferring to other schools, more than playing time, financial reasons or family.

According to the same survey, just 55% of male athletes and 47% of female athletes believe that mental health is a priority to their school’s athletic department. 

These schools have stellar mental health services, too. According to the Princeton Review, athletically dominant schools like Florida State and TCU rank in the top 25 college mental health services.

Still, if about half of all athletes feel like their mental health is ignored by their programs, then it’s clear that the millions of dollars in profit that these schools are making from athletics aren’t supporting student-athletes, the ones who are generating all of that revenue.

When a 2023 study of more than 600 college athletes shows that anywhere from 15% to 33% of student athletes show serious signs of depression, the NCAA doesn’t have a problem–it has a crisis.

Then again, why worry about mental health when you can just win championships?