By: Kaustubh Garimella. Kaustubhis a sophomore at Northwestern University and has previously volunteered in India helping students learn basketball.
During the summer after my sophomore year in high school, I attended a basketball sleep away camp for a week at Bentley College. It was there that I was first introduced to the term “Student Athlete”. There’s a reason why the word ‘student’ comes before the word ‘athlete’, my coach told us. Academics always came first, and basketball came second. In other words, getting a proper education was the first priority, and being an athlete could only happen after schoolwork was finished.
When I first heard this explanation, it made sense in my head. Although I loved the game, I knew that my passion for basketball could only take my so far in this world. An education would open up a lot more viable opportunities for my future. But as I grow older, I don’t think that there necessarily has to be a progression on what one spends their time on. Not that basketball is more important than an education, but it certainly can be part of a one.
Basketball and athletics in general, teach a great deal of skills to players. From the importance of practice and a good work ethic, to proper communication and teamwork, to how to get up after failure and how to be gracious in success, basketball instructs people vital skills that can be applied in the future. I’ve seen this exemplified in my own life; I’ve learned a lot about how to interact with people from basketball, and when I ask my friends the same thing, they say that athletics were one of the most important things they had participated in.
Not that athletics is the only way to gain these skills; certainly they are always many
paths that lead to a full education. But for many who have the passion for a sport like basketball, there’s no need to separate the terms ‘student’ and ‘athlete’. In the end, for those of us who owe much of our education to our coaches and teammates, we are all just students, not matter how we are learning.