Social Media Asst.
There have been a lot of memes going around poking fun at student athletes in the last few months. On social media, we are seen as stuck-up, Bible-quoting attention seekers who think we are better just because we do well athletically.
Now, I’m sure that there are several players out there who may fit this description.
As for me, I play on the women’s tennis team here at Fredonia. As a very small Division III team with a short season and little name recognition, I would like to believe that this makes me and my teammates a bit more level-headed than those portrayed in memes.
I even ran into someone at Tim Hortons the other day who had no idea that Fredonia even had a tennis team outside of club tennis. That didn’t surprise me. Rarely do we have spectators attend our matches, besides the odd parent who comes to support every now and then. Even when we have athletes supporting athletes’ events, it seems like most people show up, talk to their friends for the first half of the match, sign in and then leave.
And that is their preference. Whether or not my fellow students show an interest in tennis has never affected the way I look at the game, and it certainly will not stop me from playing.
What would stop me from playing, however, are cuts due to dwindling enrollment.
Pretty much every student on campus is well aware of the fact that Fredonia is trying to make up for low-enrollment. We saw it when FSA announced that they would have to reduce the hours of on-campus dining options for the upcoming Fall semester. We have heard talk of merging the Philosophy Department with another because there are too few students within it.
My fear is that the cuts will spread, making their way into the athletics department. As such a small team, tennis would hardly stand a chance if it came to deciding between upsetting about a dozen students on campus or a budgetary crisis.
And tennis has already been affected by low-enrollment cutbacks. At the start of the Fall 2016 semester, my very first year with the women’s team, we were denied a week of preseason before starting our regular season, which is only about a month long. When we asked the athletic administration why we were unable to begin our training earlier, we were told that the budget did not allow for us to have a preseason. Since enrollment was down, we could not be given an extra week on campus to prepare for our first match, which was only about two weeks away. So far, it does not look like we will be getting a preseason for next season either.
Now, the situation is what it is. With enrollment dropping, there are bound to be cuts. However, I know quite a few students on this campus who will be devastated if their athletics teams are next.
I can personally say that tennis is one of the most important things that happened to me here. Last Fall, I was a first-year student, terrified and alone, coming to this strange place called college. The only reasons I left my dorm room during those first few weeks were to go to class and to play tennis. I was able to meet some very kind young women by joining the team. Now, I was not very good out on the courts compared to my talented teammates, but that was not the point. Suddenly, there were people on campus that I knew and could talk to. College started to become less and less scary with every practice, match and team bonding party.
I know that I cannot be the only one on this campus that has been greatly affected by their athletics team. And I know that I am not the last first-year student to have this experience. Sports are an important way to relieve stress, as well as make friends for a lot of people on campus. If that is taken away, so are a multitude of opportunities for students to connect with their community.
So, yes, keep making memes about how egotistical student athletes can be; I am sure that some of us deserve it. Care about our games or don’t, that’s up to you. Just don’t take our teams away, please.