Breaking the club sports stigma
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The life of a student-athlete is glamorous and fulfilling until it involves club sports.
I’ve played sports all my life, but when I graduated high school, the lack of scholarships and time made me think my athletic career was over. I was given a second chance to extend my athletic career by playing club sports.
When I signed up for women’s rugby, I didn’t understand the stresses and demands that came with being a student-athlete for a club sport.
There isn’t paid tuition or excused absences, or even free uniforms when playing club sports. A trainer doesn’t wait on the sidelines after practices, and there is no designated pregame warmup led by kinesiology experts to prevent injuries.
All student-athletes face the pressures of staying up late doing homework and waking up early the next morning for conditioning regardless of if they are through the school or other organization. But for student-athletes outside of the school’s athletic program, it is a paid membership with stricter rules.
Chico State does not accept club sports as an excuse for missing class, even though the teams are required to travel a majority of the time to find tournaments and competitions to compete in. The student-athletes are also expected to fundraise to supply the vehicles and lodging for their tournaments.
UC Davis student and cornerback, Jabari Howard, compared the differences between student-athletes and regular students in his article “The life of a student-athlete.”
Howard shows that athletes playing for a school organization are treated exceptionally well and are given more opportunities. For club athletes, these possibilities do not exist.
Regardless of the success of a club sport, it is not generally recognized by the school or given attention. The women’s rugby team was able to travel to North Carolina for the National competition last season despite being self-funded.
Although club sports miss the title of being school affiliated, its accomplishments and dedication cannot be overlooked. The struggle of student-athletes to succeed in school, attend their practice and continue paying monthly dues falls on deaf ears because of the club title.
Athletes don’t compete just for the recognition. The cheers of fans and the accomplishments of the team as a whole are great motivating factors, but it is the love of the game that pushes club athletes to their limits and acts as the true catalyst for the players.
Makayla Hopkins can be reached at [email protected] or @_MakaylaHopkins on Twitter.