Like other student-athletes looking to play the sport they love in college, I see the recruiting process as a just way to pursue and be admitted to any school I have the desire and ability to handle. Every college or university in the nation is an academic institution. However, enormous amounts of money come in to schools through their athletic departments. Athletic teams are valuable sources of publicity and revenue.
It would be impossible to eliminate the system of athletic recruiting as it stands. Could schools like Alabama, Texas, or Ohio State conceivably be asked to cut their varsity programs, which each bring in separate incomes of over $115,000,000 a year? How about schools like Stanford and Notre Dame that each, through athletics alone, make over $75,000,000 annually?
I cannot control the system that dictates college recruiting. I joined the NCAA this summer as a potential recruit for Division 1 rowing and, as the smallest possible pawn in the system, have absolutely no say in what goes on behind the scenes in terms of school television rights, scholarship budgets, coaching salaries, or travel expenses.
I defend athletic recruiting on the personal level. Rowing has provided a stable source of personal excellence in my life, which is the most valuable thing that Deerfield has given me so far. Off the water, I stay up later and wake up earlier than anyone I know in order to produce the highest level of class work that I can. However, this grueling effort doesn’t necessarily get plugged into a machine that churns out straight A’s at the end of every grading period.
Colleges want well-rounded, intelligent and involved students, but a perfect SAT score does not mean that students will pursue their academics, or any other extra-curricular options a college offers, to the fullest. What better way to determine the character of a person than through her dedication to athletics? Many say that as an athlete, I am given admission priority by colleges. I say that I am given priority simply because I will contribute more to a school in the next four years than many of my non-varsity athlete peers. I will attend all of my classes and practices while maintaining a high enough GPA to pass all of my courses.
In college I will have to balance the expectations of my parents, academic advisors, coaches and teammates. On top of everything academic that is expected of all students, I will have an additional 20 hours of practice time a week. That’s 20 hours that won’t be spent drinking, Facebooking, sleeping, or eating cheap pizza. I will do all of this while also meeting expectations as the well-rounded student that the college was looking for in the first place.