The inequity behind athlete favoritism

(Graphic/Lily Hemmeter)

(Graphic/Lily Hemmeter)

Lily Hemmeter, Features Editor

It’s no secret that colleges and universities take pride in their athletes and sports programs. It is almost impossible to visit a college campus without seeing its many state-of-the-art practice fields and stadiums, all plastered with their mascot. 

Why is this? People love college sports – sometimes even more than their professional counterparts. And while I don’t personally care about any of it, I understand that I am in the minority. Colleges make a lot of money off of their sports teams. I’m talking millions of dollars per sport for some colleges. No wonder they give their athletes preferential treatment. But is this favoritism fair?

In my opinion, as someone who has never possessed any substantial athletic ability, the answer is no. I want to preface this by saying I am amazed at the talent of these athletes. I can’t even fathom running a mile in less than 10 minutes without wanting to lay flat on the ground afterward. That being said, I believe there are other impressive abilities that deserve recognition as well.

Artistic talents are among the first that come to mind. High schoolers don’t typically get recruited by colleges for their exceptional art skills. It may seem like colleges value how far a student can throw a football over how well they can paint an oil portrait, but it really comes back to the money. Football sells to the masses while portrait paintings don’t. It is an unfortunate reality. I’m not suggesting that the arts should be raised to the level of athletics, but I do think colleges should offer more art-related scholarships. This would encourage creativity and foster a more diverse student body.

There is also an ongoing debate about whether colleges prioritize athletics over academics. On top of receiving generous scholarships, athletes are often given the updated dorms, and their sports facilities are usually nicer than some of the academic buildings.

It is also worth mentioning that not all athletes receive this special treatment. Women and anyone playing a less mainstream sport are not typically treated the same as, say, a star male basketball player. Once again, it all harkens back to who can make the colleges the most money.

I think colleges need to show more interest in artistically and intellectually gifted students because although they may not be as profitable as athletes, the effects of their presence on campus will be lasting. This diversity of skills and interests will create a more rich and cultured environment for all to enjoy.