Guest Columnist Isioma Akwanamnye: Athletes and non-athletes should make efforts to interact

Since my arrival here on campus, I’ve heard several people complain about how athletes here seem to have a “god complex.” I have always wondered why this is so, and that’s the rationale behind this letter. It is imperative for students to be informed about how a couple of people on campus feel about this. A couple of personal experiences with some of the athletes on campus have made me share the same beliefs about athletes who have a huge dose of ego and have also made me question those same beliefs too.

Being an athlete isn’t the easiest job. Between 6:00 a.m. practice, classes, homework, evening practices, away games and trying to catch-up with school work while away; it is sometimes easy to get self-absorbed and narcissistic without even knowing. In Daniel Gallan’s article titled “Arrogance or Confidence: The Role of Egos in Elite Sport,” he argues that athletes require certain qualities, skills and, sometimes, ego to be the best at what they do, but explains that the line between confidence and arrogance is as fine as the line between success and failure.

I understand that confidence is a very important quality in the sporting world because it helps to boost your performance as athletes. Sometimes it seems athletes mistake ego for self-confidence, especially when relating to non-athletic students. This creates stereotypical misconceptions about athletes being snobs, cocky or that they feel superior to other regular students.

Often misconceptions arise due to lack of proper communication between athletes and regular students. This, I feel, is a blame shared by both parties. It’s easier for athletes to socialize with people they already know and are familiar with as compared to meeting new people on campus they don’t know. It is also easy for regular students to stereotype athletes as being “self-absorbed and privileged jocks.”

“Athletes are unconsciously segregated people on campus who are always in their shells and are either by themselves or with their team-mates,” student Chinaza Nwosa, said.

Stereotypical misconceptions like this arise as a result of cracks in communication between athletes and non-athletic  students.

While some athletes may be egotistical, not all athletes are. Athletes put in an average of 9-12 hours every day between practices, weights, drills and other activities to enhance their performances, so there isn’t enough time for them to socialize with students who are non-athletes. Their schedules are tight, and this leaves little room for social interactions most of the time.

Football player Matt Vargas said, “It’s easy for people to make generalized comments about us being snobs because we’re always with fellow athletes or team-mates more than regular students who are non-athletes.”

Students overlook a very important point about how stereotyping people, in this case, athletes, leads us into passing biased judgements and affecting how we relate to them. Having a preconceived notion that they are egotistical makes it even harder to want to get to know them as individuals and not as the person behind the jersey. Both students and athletes must make conscious efforts to get to know each other. Little things such as saying hello, exchanging pleasantries or even a simple smile would probably go a long way in trying to fix the relationship between athletes and regular students. Not all athletes have a god complex, and we shouldn’t generalize based on those few who do.

Moving forward, creating a conducive environment for athletes and non-athletic students to get to know each other would be a step in the right direction. Personally, I recommend that the school organizes a “meet and greet” for regular students to get to meet the athletes on campus. I understand that some sports like the basketball, wrestling and volleyball teams do this but the same can also be done for the football team, also. I know there are many students on the football team and this could pose a problem for the college, but I hope that the appropriate bodies take this suggestion into consideration. Getting to know the athletes behind the jerseys would go a long way in ensuring good communication and rapport athletes and non-athletes.

 

Written by Guest Columnist Isioma Akwanamnye

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