There are many perks to attending a large, 20,000+ Division I school in the beautiful Northwest. The University of Oregon boasts endless majors and programs of study, clubs and organizations to fit any personality, and an intercollegiate athletic department that rivals nearly every university in the country.
Possessing such a strong athletic prowess means that the U of O and Eugene are known by many names: Tracktown, USA, Nike University Home of Prefontaine and Phil Knight’s Legacy, to name a few. Our football team has been Rose Bowl Champions and serves as trendsetter in the world of Nike football uniforms and apparel.
But what about the students who fall outside the realm of collegiate athletics and all that Division I sports entail? As a run-of-the-mill, no athletic scholarship or champion ring-wearing student, intercollegiate athletics is a controversial subject on campus.
At Oregon, it seems apparent that student-athletes get the best of everything. The controversy lies in whether or not student-athletes are treated better than other students on campus because of their state-of-the-art tutoring center (which boasts an impressive infiniti moat), textbook and MacBook rentals or countless other benefits.
The NCAA mission statement reads, “A basic purpose of this Association is to maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the educational program and the athlete as an integral part of the student body and, by so doing, retain a clear line of demarcation between intercollegiate athletics and professional sports.”
The NCAA seems to have covered all the necessary bases in their bylaws in terms of avoiding drama and scandal. Even their annual scholarly colloquium addresses pressing issues within the organization. However, neither one of these addresses the issue that arises when you talk about the discrepancy between intercollegiate athletics and student relationships on campus.
I don’t have any beef with student athletes or the treatment that they receive on campus. They are treated like celebrities because in a sense, that’s what they are. The only hiccup that I see in the treatment of student athletes and intercollegiate athletics as a whole is the separation and apparent disconnect between Division I athletes and the rest of the student body.
I believe that the NCAA does its best to integrate athletes into campus life, but I also believe that there is more to be done. Student-athletes are friends with fellow student-athletes, while “Average Joe” students admiring the intercollegiate accomplishments of their classmates are nothing more than spectators.
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