UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen doesn’t view his duties as a Bruin football player and a student at UCLA as compatible occupations. And he has a point.
Rosen, who has been outspoken about other student-athlete issues before, made the comments about his role as both a student and a football player to Bleacher Report in a lengthy interview.
When the topic of “catching up” on school was raised because of a shoulder injury that caused Rosen to miss the second half of the 2016 season, Rosen said that really wasn’t the case. An economics major, the QB said there was a class he needed to take in the spring for his degree. But it conflicted with football.
From Bleacher Report:
B/R: So football wins out?
Rosen: Well, you can say that.
B/R: So that’s reality for student-athletes playing at a major university?
Rosen: I didn’t say that, you did. (Laughs.) Look, football and school don’t go together. They just don’t. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs. There are guys who have no business being in school, but they’re here because this is the path to the NFL. There’s no other way. Then there’s the other side that says raise the SAT eligibility requirements. OK, raise the SAT requirement at Alabama and see what kind of team they have. You lose athletes and then the product on the field suffers.
Rosen’s comment mentioning Alabama has already been taken out of context and will surely be seen by many as a swipe against the most powerful program in college sports.
It’s not. It’s more a statement regarding the totality of college sports. His thoughts on the matter in the interview are enlightening for anyone that’s a fan of college sports and show he’s thought this issue through.
College sports are incredibly time-consuming for all athletes, not just football players. The demands include not only games but practice and training time and travel time.
There’s a reason Power Five conferences passed legislation earlier this year that barred athletic-related sessions (outside of games) from 9 p.m.-6 a.m or a corresponding eight-hour overnight break after a game along with a few other rules to attempt to lessen the burden on players’ time.
Those changes came about 10 months after the results of an NCAA survey were released. In it, 43 percent of football players said they felt they put more time into the sport than they were initially led to believe during the recruiting process. Football had the highest percentage of respondents in the survey who felt that way.
NCAA rules limit sport-specific activities for athletes to 20 hours per week during a season and eight hours a week in the offseason outside of football. But “voluntary” weight room sessions and other items don’t count against the 20-hour limit.
And an in-season travel day — say the Friday before a game for a football player — can count as a player’s mandated one day off per week.
In 2015, a Pac-12 survey said its athletes spend an average of 50 hours a week on their specific sports and are often “too exhausted to study effectively.” Whether or not you believe Pac-12 athletes are truly spending 50 hours a week on their sports is beside the point. Rosen is clearly not on an island.
The amount of time athletes spend on their sports is an effective argument for why players should get paid — especially those who are responsible for bringing in copious amounts of revenue via television and apparel licensing deals.
If a sport is hindering a player from getting the degree of his or her choice, shouldn’t there be some sort of compensation outside of a scholarship and stipend? What’s the value of an athletic scholarship to a player if athletic activities are prohibitive to academic ones?
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