Limpag: Student-athletes

Mike T. Limpag

MY YEARS of interacting with student-athletes and former student-athletes have led me to one ugly truth: A lot them waste their four or five years in college by only playing sports and neglecting their studies. Sure, there are many success stories but the fact remains, most just go through the motions to get a degree, mostly related to physical education.

Some regret it decades after as they see their peers live successful lives, while some, who are just a few years removed from college, have yet to see the folly of their ways.

With schools struggling amid the Covid-19 pandemic and with some dropping their athletic programs, the importance of getting the proper degree has again been highlighted. And I hope these past few months will prod student-athletes to value their education and appreciate the rare chance that they have, if they are still enjoying scholarships.

Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy said that he has recommended to the member schools to retain the scholarship of their students but he said the schools will have the final say. You really can’t force schools that are already bleeding financially to keep scores of players on scholarships if they can no longer afford it.

In the past couple of years, when Cebu Institute of Technology-University president Bernard Villamor took over, the Cesafi has really put the emphasis on education with his tagline, “Basta Cesafi, estyudante.” And though I don’t think most of the student-athletes have taken that seriously, I hope they will when school resumes.

I mean, that step-back three, last minute three-pointer, game-winning save or spike make for good stories that you can tell your children or friends, right? But the circumstances of such story-telling will depend on the athlete’s conduct off the court, not on the court.

Would the story-telling be done after a tough day at work, as you settle to your most comfortable chair in the house and your children gather around you as you regale them with your life as an athlete? Or would it be that of a worn-out retelling of such tale to your friends who have heard it too many times already as you gather for your weekly drinking sessions because one of you was lucky enough to have gotten paid.

Tiukinhoy’s statement should serve as a wakeup call for student-athletes. It’s not too late for them to change their ways and to handle their studies as well or even better than the way they handle their training.