Time To End The UNC Student-Athlete Hypocrisy?

We - I've lived in or near Chapel Hill, NC now for almost ten years, I can say 'We.' We are not some two-bit hokey college, out in the sticks. We are the oldest public university in the United States, and one of its largest. We have made great play of our focus on student-athletes. If our esteemed coaches did not know, they should have done. Period. But that, for me, is not the real issue.

Young people come to our university to train to be doctors. To train to be engineers. To train to be stockbrokers. Take a trip through the hallways of our business departments. Our medical facilities. There is no attempt to pretend that students are being made to study other than their chosen vocation. There is no attempt to hide the fact that the best are being recruited, even while at college, for professional berths after college.

So, why do we feel the need to pretend with our athletes? What is wrong with coming to university to train to be a professional athlete? No-one demands of our medical students that they run the 100 meters once a week. So, why do we demand of our athletes that they engage in activities which have nothing to do with the profession for which they are training, and for which they simply may not have the gifts?

What we end up doing is stigmatizing our athletes. We say to them that sports is not a real career. That they are not as good as the rest of the student body. Pretty much we teach them to cheat at this early age.

Is it not time simply and honestly to recognize that much of our athletic program is a training ground for professional sports? Openly to encourage our athletes to think in this way? To encourage them to be the very best, the very most open and the very most honest athletes and students they can be? Taking pride in their accomplishments, not least their being chosen before graduation to perform with recognized professional sports teams? Allowing them, as we take pride in them, allowing them to take pride in the institution which recognized their gifts on a par with every other student?

Isn't it time just to end the hypocrisy?


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