The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Everlasting Battle Between Academia and Athletics

Bates is far from perfect. No student, professor, administrator, or staff would ever admit to or try to argue that it is, and that is part of what makes it a special place. Acknowledging one’s flaws is a critical aspect of self-improvement, something that is a part of the very fabric that makes up Bates and its community.

This article is not intended to pit student-athletes against professors. To say outright that professors or teaching assistants look down upon athletes would be an utter falsehood. I have created some of my best bonds with my professors at my own com- petitions that they have gone out of their way to attend, as well as receiving copious support from professors in order to help keep the delicate life that is that of a student-athlete’s in balance.

However, in the light of being imperfect and seeking self-improvement, one would be remiss to believe that the relationship between student- athletes and the academic leaders here at Bates has always been amicable and supportive.

On both sides, rumblings of not dislike, but discontent with respective treatment can be heard. whether it be the student- athletes that, out of a perceived idea of superiority, ‘never try’ in a professor’s seminar, or be it the student-athletes who feel slighted when a professor ‘refuses’ to understand the circumstances of a weekend-long, multi-game road trip that kept them from completing an assignment.

Such rumblings are difficult to ignore, and it is worth acknowledging them – as well as the fault that both student- athletes and professors should assume – in order to begin improving upon them. To simply continue to ignore them would go against the mission and goals of the institution.

One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, gave a testimony about the treatment of one of their team- mates by a professor, stating that their teammate was told to drop a class due to some conflicts with class time and travel schedules for competition.

To recommend a student- athlete drop a class rather than trying to accommodate and come up with a feasible solution is irresponsible from a professor at this type of institution. I’d like to say this is an isolated story, but unfortunately this is not the first time I’ve heard this type of story.

This, along with the stories of professors who cannot stand athletes because they believe that they are ‘entitled’ or ‘lazy’, essentially labeling student- athletes as unintelligent without explicitly saying it. These types of generalizations and stereo-typing are unacceptable.

Despite the stories, the blame must still be shared between student-athletes and professors for the creation of this negative culture. While many, many student-athletes both at Bates and elsewhere in the NCAA are hardworking, contributing members of the community, there is always bound to be a bad batch.

The batch that I’m talking about is the group of student-athletes that believe themselves to either be better than – or simply don’t care about – their academic work, complicating the life of both professors and other students alike, while also managing to paint a tarnished image of student-athletes across the board.

However, just as it would be unfair to not criticize those student-athletes who don’t respect their academics, it is equally unfair for professors to generalize all student-athletes into such a category when it is documented time and time again that student- athletes are not just excellent students, but also manage to have a resounding impact on those around them at school, as well as in their greater communities.

All of this said, there is no reason for this negative culture of disdain between student-ath- letes and professors. While this culture may always exist, it is worth discussing and address- ing, because it will never go away without acknowledging it.

I’m not anyone’s parent, so I’m not going to lecture you all in this article about how to be- have yourselves and respect others, particularly in the relation- ship of professor to student, but I will leave you with some parting words from one of my favorite country singers, Kenny Chesney.

Going forwards, I think it would be best for everyone if we all relax, cut each other a bit of slack, and “Get Along.”

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About the Contributor
Jackson Elkins
Jackson Elkins, Editor-in-Chief
Jackson Elkins is a senior from South Deerfield, Mass. He is a double major in Economics and European Studies with a minor in German Language and Culture. He spends much of his time running on the roads of Lewiston and Auburn with his teammates on the men's cross country and track & field teams, but thoroughly enjoys his downtime from school, running, and The Bates Student sports section by following Boston-based professional sports. Jackson was previously the 2019-20 assistant sports editor and the 2020-21 managing sports editor.

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