Viewpoint: Student athletes actually work for their perks

Back in February, I received an email from my roommate. In the subject box, she typed “Thought you might get a kick out of this!” In the email was a link to an article published in the Daily Illini, the University of Illinois’ equivalent to the Lariat. The column, which ran Feb. 19, was titled “Student Athletes: The Kings and Queens of Campus.”

I was intrigued.

As I read the article I found myself getting increasingly upset and angry as the writer, Renee Wunderlich, used words to portray student athletes as spoiled brats who were incapable of any sort of independent success.

When I finished the article, I was fuming. Being an athlete myself, I couldn’t fathom how someone how could misconstrue student athletes so badly. I was more worried about if there are people at Baylor who think like Wunderlich, though.

I had almost forgotten completely about the article until yesterday. I was cutting through Jones library, and I heard the word “athlete” come from the group of people in front of me. Their conversation immediately had my focus. I won’t repeat exactly what these few Baylor students had to say about student athletes. I’ll just say I was horrified that Wunderlich’s beliefs are actually shared on Baylor’s campus.

I found myself at a crossroads. I could get angry with these people for their beliefs. Or I could consider their perspective and apologize for all the things Wunderlich and like-minded people accuse us of.

I chose the latter.

We are sorry for getting scholarships for playing a sport.

“It would take me 18 years to discover coordination, stamina or anything that vaguely resembled athleticism. And it’s too bad, really — Had I hit my fitness stride just a few years earlier, maybe I could be getting more out of this University,” Wunderlich wrote.

You are right, Wunderlich. Our scholarships have nothing to do with our own hard work and dedication to our sport. It has everything to do with winning the genetic lottery.

Athletic scholarships have nothing to do with the countless number of hours we log at practice and extra training to become elite athletes. They have nothing to do with the sacrifices we have made throughout our life to earn an athletic scholarship. You’re right. There was no hard work in becoming a college athlete. We all just came out of the womb scoring touchdowns and hitting 3-pointers.

We are also sorry for all the free stuff we get.

“Athletes at nearly all American colleges and universities get some sort of specialized physical, nutritional, psychological and academic accommodations,” she wrote.

How unfair is that? Why should our physical, nutritional, psychological and academic needs be any more important than yours? I’m sure you spend your time outside of class running, squatting three times your body weight and pushing 100-pound plates the length of a football field. I’m sure your normal daily exertion requires the same type of physical and nutritional attention our bodies need to survive practices every day.

Also, our responsibilities as athletes are easy compared to what you do. Think about it this way: We mess up at our job and not only is our team let down, but the entire campus is let down. We miss one shot, have one bad game, and suddenly we are the least-liked person on campus. I bet you’re up against that type of pressure every day too, right?

We are sorry that we have our own facility for study hall and other amenities to help us succeed in academics. However, I think I can speak for the majority of athletes when I say that that this is a “perk’” we could live without. I guess we didn’t realize required studying was something to be jealous of.

Most of all, we are sorry for forfeiting any sort of normal social life in order to become the best team we are capable of being.

We are sorry for dedicating our college experience to becoming an athletic program that you and the rest of the university can be proud of.

So, to Wunderlich and other like-minded athlete haters: The list of apologies could go on forever, but to summarize, we are deeply sorry for all of the “benefits” we get for our extremely “easy” lives.

When I wake up at 5 a.m. tomorrow to practice in the rain before going to class, I will be sure to think of you, cozy in your bed, and remember how lucky I am to have an immensely “easier” life than you.

Larissa Campos is a senior journalism major from Centennial, Colo. She is a reporter for the Lariat.