Athletes deserve recognition

Non-athletes should  provide support, not criticism

By COLLEEN PEGHER

Spots Editor

[email protected]

Nov. 8, 2013

 

In the last few weeks, I have heard numerous comments regarding the performance of our football team here at Allegheny this season. The funny thing is that most of the people that I’ve heard these negative comments from are those who rarely attended Allegheny football games.

I have covered the Allegheny football team for The Campus newspaper for the past three seasons and have attended almost every game in the time that I have been a student at Allegheny. Please note that the opinions expressed in this opinion are not those of The Campus. Every season, there are two games that are packed with fans: the home opener and the Homecoming game. At these games, you find Allegheny students in attendance to enjoy the weather, tailgate and participate in the free giveaways, but how many people are actually there to pay attention to the game?

In my experiences, there are very few. In the two games that Allegheny students actually do attend, you are more likely to find them taking a ridiculous amount of pictures or tweeting than paying attention to the action on the field.

Yet, despite the general lack of care and attention given to the team, I still have heard “the football team sucks” more times than I can count this season from people who I know for a fact do not part with their Netflix on Saturday afternoons to go watch the team that they’re talking about.

Why doesn’t Allegheny care about their football team? Are Allegheny students too caught up in themselves and their grades to care? Or are they too busy devoting themselves to other causes? Whatever the reason, there are people here at Allegheny who seem to feel that they can express their poor opinions of student athletes, not only regarding their on-the-field performance but their character as well, yet who would be conversely offended and outraged if their club was criticized in a similar manner.

Why badmouth student athletes? What do non-athletes gain from labeling them as dumb, rude, insensitive, exclusive, etc.? They are not just athletes, but our peers, members of our student community.  We are not at a Division I school where athletes have special tutors and test banks. Our student athletes are held to the same academic expectations that we are. They will most likely never move on to play sports professionally  or achieve any sort of notoriety for their athletic accomplishments.

Student athletes do the same work that we do, and have to go to practice too. They also participate in the same clubs and organizations that we do. They play the game for the love of the game and that in and of itself is admirable. So before you call student athletes dumb, or loudly declare that our football team “sucks,” why don’t you think about the organization you’re involved in? I bet there’s a student athlete in it, and I guarantee they are just a part of much of it as you are, and that they are working just as hard as you are. You know, after they practice, and do all of their homework, too.

Last season, three members of the football team were selected to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-District Team. This season, another Gator received the same honor. To qualify for the nomination, a player must excel on the field while boasting above a 3.3 grade-point average. With that in mind, generalizing football players as dumb seems silly, doesn’t it?

As the sports editor of the Campus for the last three years, I have had the pleasure of dealing with many Allegheny coaches and athletes. In my experience covering the football team, I have been treated with the utmost respect from players and Head Coach Mark Matlak. Are they having a rough season? Yes, they absolutely are. However, it is our responsibility as members of the Allegheny College community to provide them with the same support that we show towards other organizations on campus. That respect should be shown to all athletic teams here as they are working hard, just like you. And if you feel the need to criticize their performance on the field, that’s fine, but watch the game first.