Points of view: Athletes earn ‘free’ gear from Baylor

Anja Rosales
Anja Rosales
Anja Rosales

By Anja Rosales

The other day I came across a post on the app “Yik Yak” that read, “the only time an athlete shows some school pride is when they are wearing the gear given to them that we pay for.”

I wasn’t going to post anything in response to it because personally, I will never lower my maturity level and argue behind anonymous postings on social media, but I realized how this student was entirely misinformed. And as a student-athlete, this really didn’t sit well with me for several reasons. This is why I want to take the time to clear up any misconceptions that athletes are just given things because it’s statements and ideas like these that cause this gap between student-athletes and students.

I understand not every student hates or dislikes all student-athletes. However, there is a negative attitude that some students have towards student-athletes because of the “privileges” that students believe student athletes get.

It’s understandable when a student sees an athlete with a nice backpack, pair of shoes or warm-up jacket that are all sponsored by the same brand with a Baylor logo on them and gets annoyed with how much money those three items may have cost that the student athlete didn’t pay a cent for.

First, student-athletes aren’t “given” anything. Ask any coach on campus whether it be a strength coach, head coach or assistant coach and they will say everything an athlete receives is earned. For my sport, we must pass our fitness test in order to play and receive our gear.

Second, I don’t know who this person is who posted this comment on Yik Yak, but unless they are a donor or work for the athletic department, I am most certain they did not pay for our gear.

The amount of gear we earn depends on how much money our program’s budget has for that season, and that goes for all sports. Our budget depends on how successful our season was and how successful the program has been overall.

Not to mention, a lot of how much money the athletic program has overall has much to do with the success of the football program. Students aren’t paying for our gear. That money comes from hard work across the athletic department.

Third, not all athletes are on a full-ride scholarship or even on partial scholarship for that matter. The number of athletes who receive only academic scholarships to come to Baylor, pay just as much or even more than some non student-athletes.

So yes, those student-athletes are “given” the opportunity to work just as hard in the classroom as they do on the field in order to keep their scholarship.

Some of the student-athletes on college campuses come from an extremely opposite home-life than the demographic of the average Baylor student so this “free gear” is seen as a blessing to some athletes.

I can see how a student might get frustrated when they see a student-athlete decked out in nice gear and assume that student-athlete is on a full-ride scholarship, getting a free education as well as free gear on top of that.

But that isn’t always the case, and just like earning their gear, student-athletes have worked just as hard to earn their scholarship, whether it’s a full-ride, partial or academic scholarship, let alone their spot on the team without any money.

I don’t think students realize the dedication and sacrifices we have made in order to become a student-athlete, or even the sacrifices we still make as a student-athlete. I think this is where the negativity comes into play- when they see a student-athlete with nice gear and don’t take a moment to see the gear as a means of reward.

After countless early morning workouts and practices outside in the cold, after long hot summer days of two-a-days, after having to miss school holidays and festivities due to travel, practice or team curfew, after arriving back to school at 1 a.m. after a long weekend of games and travel and having to get up for an 8 a.m. class that same day, some “free gear” is nice to have as a reward for the hard work we put in as a student-athletes.

By no means, am I complaining about the life I’ve chosen, or even asking for your sympathy for that matter.

I just don’t want these negative perceptions of athletes spreading based off of misconceptions.

I love being able to represent this university by doing something I love, something I’ve worked hard at since the day I realized I wanted to be a collegiate athlete. So when students snarl at the fact that we receive gear from our sport, it’s insulting to discover that students don’t respect the hard work we put in and make negative comments about it.

As student-athletes, we greatly respect your support of the athletic department; don’t tarnish that with snide comments based off of misconceptions.

After all “We are Baylor, and Baylor we’ll always be.” We are one successful, prestigious school. Lets take pride in that together.

Anja Rosales is a junior journalism major from San Antonio. She is a reporter for The Lariat.