Fans need to remember
that athletes are students too

by Eric Gilmore

Here I sit, way too early in the morning, amongst a heap of dirty clothes, with papers littered all over the floor. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since I can remember. I have a sore throat and my bed isn’t made. Exams weigh heavy on my mind because of heavy parental pressure. I can’t find my wallet and even if I did, it wouldn’t have any money in it.

Ahhh, college. Everyone tells you it’s the best time of your life. For me right now, it is. I have very little responsibility, can usually sleep in, and routinely stay up until 3 am. The thing about it is, I’m not even an athlete.

These athletes are required to attend every class, keep their weight and conditioning in check and manage to make it to practice. They have immense pressure from fans, coaches and peers to manage their time while still trying to balance academia.

I tip my hat to these student athletes. With Terry Holland’s new academic policy, I would have lost my scholarship last week. That would be if I had one. Miss one class and an athlete misses a practice. I wouldn’t last.

Normal fans can’t comprehend players such as James Pinkney and Guy Whimper receiving academic expulsion. Being a student, I completely understand. They have playbooks, they have to study, 8 a.m. classes, all while being sore from getting their face pounded week in and week out.

Most alumni and fans could watch ESPN, grill out at 2 pm on a Tuesday or go downtown throughout the week. These athletes simply can’t do that. They have too much responsibility from their scholarship that they have to uphold.

I have trouble fathoming what Samantha Pankey has accomplished. Pankey, a senior on the ECU women’s basketball team, has a 4.0 GPA while being a double major in English and Communications. Not too shabby. Pankey is also one of the few athletes who obviously understand how to balance her time. Being bright probably doesn’t hurt either.

Athletes also miss a huge chunk of classes because of the large geographic area of Conference USA. When the men’s golf team flies to Houston to play a tournament, each player usually misses two days of classes. Each team has the same problem. Athletes usually miss approximately ten classes per semester, which greatly influences their grades.

My mental stress over grades and exams combined with my physical stress from lack of sleep and being sick seems trivial. I don’t have students staring at me on campus, have to lift everyday or even attend every class.

Keep this in mind when you clap for the 50-odd people that get recognized for their scholastic achievements at a football or basketball game. They have earned it where I probably couldn’t. Just remember that athletes are students too.

Eric Gilmore