Should sports be a college major?

As a student at a Big 10 school, I hear many rumors about athletes and sports. “Most athletes are in the business school because it has the easiest graduation requirements so they don’t have to worry about grades,” or “General education professors have to fail a certain number of students, but athletes are exempt from that rule.” Despite the ridiculous nature of these myths, one can’t help but notice the central role sports tend to have in the college tradition.

The logic behind the over-glorification of sports and athletes is obvious. Schools funnel money into athletics to ensure that their players have the best advantage. This helps guarantee that teams win, which generates money from ticket sales, concessions, merchandise and a host of other retail factors. Having a rich sports tradition can be enticing to incoming students, thus increasing revenue from tuition. Sports are a cash cow for most universities, which creates a lot of pressure for athletes.

Not only are they responsible for their studies, but they’re also held accountable for their school’s reputation. Everyone from coaches to fellow students to alumni and sportscasters are commentating on their athleticism, creating an unimaginable amount of anxiety. As the NBA playoffs and the NFL draft begin, college athletes are focused on the professional arena of their sport rather than finals.

The time and dedication college athletes put into their sport constitutes the equivalent of a major in their sport.

Most universities suggest that each unit of credit requires two to three hours of studying per week. A full-time student usually takes 15 credit hours, which adds up to thirty to forty-five hours each week studying outside the classroom. The amount of time a college athlete spends practicing most likely surpasses the recommended amount of time a student must dedicate to schoolwork.  Under this schedule, it’s plausible to allow  an athlete to major in a sport.

The next logical question would be what would be the criteria for majoring in basketball or football? Majoring in a sport with the intent of becoming a professional is unrealistic. The curriculum should incorporate numerous aspects of the sport. A player should graduate with knowledge of how a contract negotiation works or how to handle salary discussions. The dynamics of coaching or managing a team should also be emphasized in an athlete’s education, as well as legalities related to sports. This would ensure that upon graduation, an athlete is familiar with all aspects of his or her craft.

The discrepancy between a coach and a professor’s salary has also been a long-standing issue for universities. Professors are providing a lifetime of information to students, which is applicable to their careers, while a coach is merely facilitating entertainment for the university. But the revenue sports rake in for schools and the expertise they can provide to craft a championship-winning team can justify a million- dollar salary, while professors make around $100K.

The last thing a college graduate wants to leave school thinking is that some of their classmates were passed along or given preferential treatment because of their athleticism and not their scholastic merit. The passion a journalism student feels for writing or a law student for justice is comparable to what a football player feels when training for a game. College athletes dedicate grueling hours of workouts and practice to their sports, which warrants the consideration of allowing them to major in it.  This change would also help alleviate the pressure an athlete faces from when trying to balance academics and time for practice. When a student athlete spends as much, or even more time. playing soccer or basketball, it becomes more than just a hobby. When the love of the game becomes a way of life, we should think about turning it into a college major.