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Free education is not free for student-athletes

Spartan football Defensive Coordinator Jerry Holmes [Photo from]

Spartan football Defensive Coordinator Jerry Holmes [Photo from]

An Editorial by Lamar Neal

Most Division 1 athletes receive a scholarship, but students have a picture painted in their head that college athletes have an easy ride. Yes, food and books are free and there are multiple opportunities for academic assistance, but what is the true cost of being a student-athlete? Is it waking up in the offseason every other day at 5 a.m. for what the coaches call voluntary workouts? Or is it the time they spend scraping by in the summer because a job or going home is not an option for those who thrive to be great.

Many student athletes are perceived as the privileged kids on campus. They receive free education, room and board and they also get the fame. Students of most schools don’t take the time to look in between the lines. If they did, they would see the relentless work ethic that most of the athletes have to have to be successful. The top sports like football and basketball take the cake in physical training and require a sacrifice you have to make in training for a year to be ready for a two – three month season.

Spartan football Defensive Coordinator Jerry Holmes said “student athletes thrive off of success in their sport, but to do so they have to maintain their life as a Division 1 athlete.”

Holmes has coached for over 20 years and has seen his share of success and failure. Being a first year coach here at Norfolk State, Coach Jerry Holmes established a bond with some of the players by helping them in the harsh summer, but also staying within the rules of the NCAA.

Michael Phillips has played football as a true freshman and is now in his final year at Norfolk State. He has faced the problems of hunger and insomnia during summer workout programs. The students that gather on Saturdays to watch the home football games only see the players on a stage as athletes that are praised for their physical ability. They do not see them as student-athletes that must workout at 5 a.m., then have team meetings at 7 a.m., classes throughout the day, then a hardnosed practice at 4 p.m., then at 6:30 p.m. dinner, then it’s study hall until 9 p.m.

Many other student-athletes have it different, but they all have it. It is the life they maintain regardless of being tired or hurt; they still have to perform because that’s the price of a full scholarship.