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The Role of Today’s Student-Athletes

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 4:05 PM

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Photo courtesy of Parker Knight/Flickr.

Recently, Northwestern University's football players began to explore options that would allow them to unionize, and someday maybe even earn a paycheck. But there's another issue at play - are universities doing enough academically to prepare their athletes for life after graduation? More on that from StateImpact Ohio's Amy Hansen.

Former Ball State and Cleveland Browns football player Reggie Hodges said the benefits of being a student athlete--like a free education, along with room and board stipends--are enough compensation, and it’s up to the student to put academics over sports. 

“There’s just not that many people who are going to get to play at the next level,” Hodges said. “So honing in on academics and letting sports be secondary is the key to a successful student-athlete career.”

But Youngstown State University’s Cryshanna Jackson, an associate political science professor who joined Hodges on WCPN’s daily call-in show The Sound of Ideas, says universities don’t tend to focus enough on the actual education of student athletes.

“They bring in students who normally wouldn’t be able to go to college, who are not college ready, they make them practice 50 hours a week, they watch videos during study tables, and they are not prepared and it’s not fair,” Jackson said.

And the debate surrounding collegiate sports and academics will likely continue, as Northwestern’s football players are set to vote next week on whether to unionize. 

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