I want you to be really honest with yourself when thinking about the following question. Sit with your instinctual answer. Would you be surprised upon hearing that a highly touted college athlete, primarily known for their athletic capabilities, is also an aspiring mechanical engineer, with a 3.7 GPA? Why are you surprised? Where does such a concrete divide between athlete and student come from? Why is there a line at all? Why do you have to be either a student or an athlete? In this realm, you can be either blue or red in the crayon box, and mouths drop when there’s purple.
When an athlete tears their ACL, trainers and medics immediately rush to the scene. In the weeks that follow, a flood of coaches, trainers, physiotherapists, strength and conditioning staff and medical specialists are fully invested in getting that athlete physically healthy again. Injured athletes receive treatment and physiotherapy every day until they’re once more able…
As much as material things have their place in our lives, it is the interactions with people who make our lives feel most full, and people who teach us the most. It is important to live in the moment, and enjoy those around us in our immediate presence. It is important to be able to reflect upon those who have paved our path, and guided us to new ones. We fail to see all of these people, as we bounce from one endeavor to the next. Just because something or someone is important, doesn’t mean we always acknowledge it/them.
We know the people who play. We know the people who make the big shots or goals. We look up to these people, we idolize them and we strive to be like them. We know Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Usain Bolt, Russell Wilson, Serena Williams, Steph Curry, Ronda Rousey and the list goes on. All of these athletes are at the height of their sport. They work incredibly hard when no one is watching, yet they also work incredibly hard when everyone is. There are many individuals who high level athletes credit when they experience success — often their family, faith, coaches, trainers, and teammates. I believe a lot of people forget that the team is the founding concept, whatever profession that may be in. The glory takes a team of people. In sports, a team consists of more than just the starting lineup, or the majority of the stat sheet. There is a team of driven individuals all fighting for and working towards a chance to shine.
Athletes do not have everything given to them. They do not have a guaranteed job after college through their sport. The reality is that the majority of us don’t.
It makes sense, statistically speaking, that there is an immense pay gap between the male and female side of sports. I am not here to demand equal pay. At the moment, it is not realistic. However, I am here to argue that we should have the opportunity to achieve it one day.
The thrill of game day pulls all of us in. It brings fans, players, coaches, and aspiring young athletes together in one facility. And believe me, it truly is incredible, especially alongside teammates and coaches that you love. There’s beauty and uniqueness in the amount of people that are brought together through sport; there’s nothing quite like it.
We’re human. In being human, we take things for granted. Our mental well being is one of those things. We rely on certain consistencies in our lives, things we expect to always be there. The key word in the previous sentence was ‘lives’, something we often forget how lucky we are to have, until one is taken from us. And usually only then are we humbled.