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Florida Football Players: Are They Students Athletes? Essay

Many schools look to create the number one colligate football team in their division. From The University of Alabama, The University of Louisiana, and even here, at The University of Florida, each program strives to develop something great by recruiting players to fill holes on the team, or simply make an overall impact. However, the individual’s academic performance is sometimes over looked based on the fact that they are able to catch a ball and run. Student athletes should not only be able to perform on the field and bring money into the institution, but they should also be capable of performing in the classroom. The University of Florida over emphasizes athletics and monetary benefits, thus causing most players to suffer academically. Florida football players are true athletes. Each athlete is expected to perform at their highest ability on game day. It’s no secret that most division one athletes are at the top of their recruiting class, and are usually the best that high school football has to offer. The recruiting process is based on the hope of delivery and a win on gameday. The University of Florida gained three number one football recruits in the 2013 season including Vernon Hargreaves III.

Now looking forward to 2015, Florida has set its sights on Byron Cowart, the number one player in the nation according to ESPN. Most programs look for the best of the best, and invest in players that have the ability to play on the professional level. The University of Florida is well known for its award winning program, and their ability to produce professional players. They have succeeded in developing some of the most prominent players in the NFL to include Heisman-Trophy winner Tim Tebow and NFL Hall of Famer Jack Youngblood. The university has invested time and money into each of these individuals in hopes that they will perform on game day and continue to prove that they were the best decision for the program throughout their career. Florida football players are of great benefit to the university. Every game costs. For example, this season alone, The University of Florida had to pay for a game that wasn’t even played. The university had to dish out almost one million dollars to The University of Idaho just for showing up and leaving. College football is a deeply loved sport that carries a large price tag. If an athlete is not delivering on the field, they are quickly pulled out so that they can reevaluate their strategy to win the game.

Each athlete must deliver every game to ensure that money keeps flowing not only into the program, but into the school itself. The success of a colligate football program is based on the number of national titles the school holds, and their rankings in their division. Florida alone has won eight SEC championships, and three national titles, making them a dominant factor in the SEC. They have also been ranked the number one seed several times throughout the programs history. Gator football brings a lot of money to the institution and is an important part of the university. Florida football players however, carry a low emphasis on academics. At the University of Florida, and other big name institutions, academic exceptions are usually made on the behalf of each player during the admissions process. For example, here at the University of Florida, most football players scored 346 points lower on the SAT, than the regular students at the institution. This is equivalent to the gap between students at The University of Georgia versus those at Harvard University. Majority of players also had lower GPA’s of around 2.8 versus the student population of a 4.0 or higher coming out of high school.

The University of Florida also does not possess a high graduation rate of their football players, specifically African-Americans. Florida only graduates about forty-nine percent of their football players each year, compared to the overall graduation rate of the institution at eighty-nine percent. This goes to show that Florida football players are being held to a higher standard as an athlete versus that of a student. Many do receive a tutor, for help with classes; unfortunately the tutors only do enough to see that the player remains eligible, rather than helping them excel as a student. According to many coaches, “it is the price of winning”. To develop the most competitive program in a division one sport, many institutions are devoted to the flexibility of admissions and grade forgiveness, for athletes. However, when did compromising an individual’s future become socially acceptable? As stated before, The University of Florida places a stronger emphasis on athletics rather than education when it comes to athletes. The school may be a desired look for most athletes, but is it really beneficial for them? Colligate football players here at The University of Florida are usually considered to be all around great players. Many are able to deliver on game day and often have a chance at going pro. The Gator football team brings in the most money out of every sport at the university.

Therefore, they have earned much respect on the field and are one of the universities greatest assets. However, football players at The University of Florida are athlete students, not student athletes. The importance of academics is not stressed enough to the football players. There are some players who meet the university GPA and test score requirements, but a vast majority tend to fall short… really short. Rather than challenging each athlete intellectually, the University of Florida ensures that all the athletes’ energy is geared towards sports. College is the foundation to the rest of a person’s life. Many apply to the University of Florida that are more than qualified to attend but are denied. Could this be an effect of a football team stacked with unfit applicants? This issue brings a deep concern to many and raises a question of fairness. We as a country have deemed it sociably acceptable to make exceptions for athletes out of our own greed to win and make money.

We are not helping these athletes by passing them through classes just so they can play on game day. This is a hindrance and must be corrected. Whether it be through a program directed at colligate athletes to ensure their college success, or doing what is right and not admitting them at all as if they were a normal student, something needs to be done. The individual athletes overall future should be the most important aspect, and not creating a competitive program that brings in money. By continuing to admit these students and pass them through classes, we are not preparing them for their future careers, and therefore as a school system, we failed them. The price of winning is actually the price of failure.

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