I understand that college football coaches think their student-athletes need to be focused on football at all times, and I also appreciate the fact that those same student-athletes are paid with scholarships and a chance at the next level. Typically, I’m on board with whatever coaches want their kids to do when done so within the rules the NCAA has established. That said, taking away what little break time these young adults have to hold practice out of state when those same student-athletes can use the time to unwind is …wait for it… wrong. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey wants the NCAA to prevent Michigan from having practice in Florida later this month and while on the face of it, many may say he wants to prevent Michigan to gain any type of competitive or recruiting advantage, the long and the short of it is the same: spring break is for breaking, not footballing.
There comes a time when coaches AND athletes need decompression time and if that time comes during their traditional spring break then so be it. There are things that should be sacred in life, one of those things should be the ability to limit the amount of time athletes are responsible to their program when that sport isn’t in session.
From the Pac-12 study that says student-athletes are 'too exhausted to study':
One unique note from the survey: Athletes want established what would essentially an eight-hour window where no practices could be held -- from 10 p.m.-6 a.m.
• Eighty percent of Pac-12 athletes say they missed a class for a game in 2014-15.
• More than half (54 percent) say they don't have enough time to study for tests.
• Almost three-quarters (73 percent) said they felt a voluntary activity was considered mandatory. Some reported coaches threatening to "kick athletes off the team for missing voluntary activities."
• Two-thirds say sports demands impacted their social lives. "Pac-12 athletes express a desire to make new friends outside of their sports teams."
Currently, FBS players are allowed a maximum of four weeks off per year when they aren’t responsible to their program. Not only is that not enough time, NCAA should mandate that holidays that you and I enjoy or traditional university and academic breaks not be included in that. So, four weeks would become five weeks and any reading time between classes and exams should be added on as well.
For the sake of other sports, I would define ‘aren’t responsible to their program’ as when the sport you participate in isn’t in session. So basketball teams traveling to Cancun over Christmas Break is clearly not an issue, but that same team mandating their basketball players travel to Italy in July should pose a problem.
Many already think it’s a joke to call these young men (in football) student-athletes when its reported many dedicate 50 hours per week to the program and have to find time to study and attend classes around that. The NCAA can do itself and many-student athletes a favor by mandating that typical academic time apply not only to students but to student-athletes.
E-mail Damien at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.