Are they really "Student-Athletes" when it's athletics are the priority?

Student-athletes play on some of the biggest stages the sports world has to offer. To do so, they attend class all day and then head directly to the practice field until nightfall. The coaches who work with them are signed to multi-million-dollar contract. During the 2016-2017 school year, the NCAA hit $1 billion in total revenue for the first time. The players see none of that.

No wonder, critics say, the term student-athlete is perversely used to describe the players in collegiate athletics.

So, what does it mean when we use the term student-athlete?

Texas Longhorn kicker Chris Naggar said, “it really should be ‘athlete-student’ just because your school revolves around when you have your sport.”

Sitting down in the north end zone of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, it was evident Naggar was quite familiar with this particular spot. When first contacting him, he asked to meet in this part of the stadium because it is a place where he does most of his work. It appeared it was a place he was able to escape the football limelight without being too far from the stadium. This area allows him to not have to rush to practice or film sessions because he is already there. In some way, the stadium is his home away from home.

Naggar, a redshirt junior from Arlington, Texas, was recruited by Charlie Strong as a preferred walk-on. As a senior in high school, Naggar was an all-state kicker and punter. In his third year on the University of Texas campus, Naggar has been around to see the inner workings of what goes into being a student-athlete.

“You do what you have to do in class to work around your athletic schedule,” Naggar said. “We have that priority registration to build our schedule around our practice times and I don't get to work on homework or even get started until it’s over.”

A junior and former bullpen catcher at Michigan State University, David Greenberg, echoed Naggar’s thoughts.

“Being a division one student-athlete is a full-time job, it is not a full-time student,” Greenberg said. “You are really a full-time athlete and then a part-time student.”

For two years, Greenberg was the bullpen catcher at MSU. He brought up the fact classes are scheduled around their sport, so they are not double-booked during practice times.

Naggar backed up Greenberg’s point on booking classes.

Naggar started out as an architectural engineering major but had to change his career path because all the classes he was planning to sign up for were during his afternoon practice times.

“I had to choose whether I wanted to quit football or postpone getting my engineering degree,” Naggar said. “I decided to postpone (engineering) because I only have a short amount of time, I can have this experience of playing football and felt it was going to be the best option for me.”