It is a common perception among college students that student athletes are often Psychology, Political Science or Sociology majors because of the perceived lower difficulty of these programs. The student athletes are listed in the various University of Oregon media guides for the different teams. Each player page of the guide gives personal information about the athletes including their major. An overview of the majors of student athletes at the University of Oregon is very interesting. The most popular major listed was "Undeclared", which is appropriate for student athletes who are freshman and sophomores who haven't chosen a major yet. These undecided students represent 28 percent of the student athletes at the Oregon.
This stereotypes regarding the majors of student athletes at the University of Oregon show that 11 percent of student athletes are Political Science majors and six percent were Sociology majors. This university contradicts this stereotype of athletes because the second most popular major choice of university athletes was Business, with 17 percent. The choice of majors is also as diverse as the student athletes themselves. The majors of college athletes at Oregon include Sports Marketing, Environmental Science, Economics, and Human Physiology. Dietrich Moore advises Football, Men's Track & Field, Women's Track & Field, Softball, Wrestling, and Men's Golf, and he estimates that his scholarship athletes represent about 21 different majors.
When asked about this perception of student athletes and majors, Dietrich Moore believes there is some truth to it.
"Most students don't choose a general education type major initially. A lot of kids start off wanting to be a Business or Journalism major. However as time progresses they may find that they can not maintain the academics needed to be a member of a professional school at the university or don't have the time commitment needed. Then they fall back onto one of the more generic majors," Moore explained.
The stereotype of university athletes as below average students is a common generalization throughout the United States. As Jack Dukeminier put it, "other students perceive student athletes as people who aren't concerned with school and think they are better than everyone else." Dukeminier admits that stereotype is partly true, but overall represents a fractional amount of scholarship athletes. It is the life of Jack Dukeminier and other athletes that depict how demanding being a student athlete is. A recent NCAA study found that the average Division I football player spends 44.8 hours per week during the season with football. Jack Dukeminier's in-season golf schedule supports this alarming trend.
For Dukeminier, the golf season is essentially 11 months long, with only a small break in the winter. He has practice from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. twice a week, and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. three times a week. He also has workouts at 6 a.m. several times a week. During the season, including workouts, practices and tournaments, Dukeminier estimates he spends 35 to 40 hours per week with golf. The team's yearly travels force Dukeminier to miss 30 days of school a year. While traveling with the team, golf coach Casey Martin dedicates time at night to give to the players for school work. Dukeminier admits it's hard sometimes to stay on top of all his school work during the heavy travel times. This is an admission that other students would have if they were in the same situation. The team also has tutors who travel with the team to help with their studying and to administer any exams.
The lives of student athletes are very similar at other institutions. For Alex Besaw, a freshman pitcher for the Oregon State Beavers, his impression of life as a student athlete is similar to Jack Dukeminier's. As a member of the baseball team, he has practice everyday for about three hours a day. He tries to take a lighter course load during heavy travel times, and he takes advantage of study hall. Oregon State also offers scheduling priorities to athletes to allow them to build their schedules around practice times, and it has mandatory tutor-led study halls.
Besaw believes that other students perceive student athletes as people who can only be successful at the sport they're involved in. When asked about the choice of majors and the rationale behind it, Besaw replied: "I haven't talked to the athletes that much about what they are majoring in, but I know a lot of my teammates are majoring in Business, which is something that I am looking into as I am an undecided freshman. I would either like to pursue Business or Education. Many of my teammates are taking Exercise and Sports Science, which seems to be a difficult field as well. For those athletes who are taking basic education majors, it is possible that they are doing this to make it easier to participate in the sport they are involved in, and be successful in school as well. Many of those who have a bright future, and may not plan on being in college for four years, may take easy majors as well to make it easy as possible for them."
In his freshman year, Alex Besaw hasn't been surprised as a student athlete. He remarked: "I haven't been surprised too much about being a student athlete since I have been doing it for most of my life. I understand the principles and consequences that come with being a student athlete and I just try to do my best on the field and in the classroom as well."
This is another unique perspective of college athletes because they have been trying to balance athletics and academics for most of their life. For Besaw, college is just the most recent example of playing sports at a high level and working just as hard in the classroom. A three-sport star at Sheldon High School, Besaw graduated with a 3.3 GPA while enrolled in Sheldon's International High School program. International High School is an accelerated learning program with a more intense and international based curriculum. Besaw illustrates where the academic mentality of some student athletes is created.
The scholastic excellence of student athletes at the University of Oregon also extends to its major sports as well. For example the Men's Basketball team had five seniors on its roster. All five were able to graduate early while playing during the 2007-08 season. This is another example of college athletes contradicting stereotypes and misconceptions. This team displays the benefits of the athletic student services provided, and how they allow even the busiest students can graduate ahead of schedule.
University athletes are always going have a lot of expectations of them. Jack Dukeminier and Alex Besaw are just two examples of hard working college athletes. They aren't athletes first and students second, but they represent the true meaning of student athletes. They meet and exceed their academic expectations with the help of the Student Support Services Department at their school. Their sports require over 30 hours of work per week outside of class. Those 30 hour weeks and intense travel schedules can turn into full-time jobs for these student athletes. Athletes are working more hours than other students with part-time jobs, and they are forced to meet academic requirements from their school and the NCAA. Dukeminier and Besaw allow us to see that all student athletes aren't spoiled and privileged "jocks". They show us that student athletes are some of the hardest working students in America's colleges and universities.