Help out student athletes

Jake Keeley

A little while back I wrote an article explaining how important the NCAA basketball tournament is. I wrote about sneaking live streams during class because missing anything could mean missing everything. Well luckily for us, the biggest moment of the tournament came Saturday night when North Carolina beat Kentucky on a last- second shot. The game was extremely competitive throughout with each team showing an unexpected amount of depth. However, the most incredible sequence of the game came in the last 10 seconds when marksmen Malik Monk tied the game with a contested three pointer. Instead of opting for a timeout, UNC rushed back down the court where unlikely hero Luke Maye hit a deep two before the buzzer.

As described above, the game had an incredible finish, and it is always cool to see someone make their name in the tournament. But this wasn’t the most impressive part. No, the most impressive thing we have witnessed with regards to the tournament is Maye actually making it to his 8 AM class the next morning. Let me remind you that the game took place in Memphis, Tennessee, meaning that Maye and his teammates had to travel all the way back to Chapel Hill before Maye (there is no reports on if anyone else had class/made it to class) could attend his class.

Maybe the fact that we are celebrating Maye actually making it to class is off-putting to some, but not to me. Not to indict myself, but certainly I have skipped a class under less applicable circumstances than hitting a last second shot to send my team to the Final Four. So to see Maye making it to his early morning class was cool. Yet it must have been hard for him, and I’m certain that he wasn’t as productive as he could’ve been that day. Which is why I believe we must change the way student athletes are treated. As we seem to want more and more from them, it is unreasonable to expect them to be able to give as much as they truly want to either avenue. Instead they have to make a sacrifice somewhere, typically either school or sport so that they can invest their time where they feel it is necessary, and will benefit them most in the future. We have seen this many times before, more recently with eventual first-overall NBA selection Ben Simmons essentially not taking classes seriously, and even in the past with North Carolina themselves when the NCAA found their academic standards weren’t up to code. In both situations, probably the must publicized events that come to mind, the ‘student’ label was most directly affected.

Unfortunately, with the culture that has been created, and the money at stake it is unreasonable to think that the NCAA would want to eliminate games in order to give their student athletes more time to focus on school. On the contrary, they are trying to make more money, stemming from a new television market (more travel), a better product (i.e. more practice) or more games, furthering the time constraints on student athletes. Obviously this train has a full head of steam already, but there are things that we should do, and I think need to be done in order to help student athletes.