I am a freshman at the College of Charleston where I proudly represent the swimming and diving program. I would like you to ponder this question: Do college athletics serve to create revenue for a college or university, or are they an extension of students’ educations?

In 1843 Yale University created a rowing team, the first collegiate athletic team in the United States. Yale set the stage for one of the most beloved aspects of sports in America today.

Collegiate sports have become more complex since then. They have become much more competitive and more expensive. However, we cannot forget why this is the case: Since Yale set this massive organization in motion, thousands upon thousands of athletes have kept collegiate programs going. Without athletes, there would be no collegiate level teams.

My 51 teammates and I get up before the sun rises five times a week. Why do we dedicate countless hours to practicing and competing? Why do we intensify our already abundant college workload so that we can play a sport? Why do we pick ourselves up and fight harder than ever after a devastating loss or failure? Why do we strive for success?

Nowhere in the answer to these questions will you find the word “money.” There is no dollar sign attached to the feeling of a great swim, beating your rival or having all of the hard work and time you have poured into your sport pay off at the end of your season.

Instead there are feelings of accomplishment and pride which money cannot provide.

I have been swimming for over 10 years, making it a part of my education for almost all of my schooling.

Being an athlete has provided me with structure and support and has allowed me to grow and learn much more than I could have imagined.

I see swimming as an extension of my education. Without it, I am not sure that I would understand commitment and dedication to the level that I do.

Swimming taught me how to work both independently and in a group. Being an athlete has given me confidence, as I have come to see that I can succeed and do great things.

Swimming has allowed me to develop organization and time management skills. I have learned much from my coaches, my teammates, and myself.

Collegiate athletics are clearly not separate from academics. College sports programs allow student athletes to continue learning and growing. Collegiate athletics stem from the passion players possess and would cease to exist if this were not present.

College teams like mine create successful and driven community members. The revenue generation that college level sports create should be seen as a bonus, not as the end all, be all.

Alexa Namestnik

St. Philip Street