The basketball lifestyle has become one of the most popularized lifestyles coming third to that of Musicians and Soccer Players. As Drake would say “”We want to be them ”hoopers’ and they wanna be us”. But when taking the microscope and taking a closer look at the level below the pros we see a life that is a little different. The life of a student athlete…
The life of a college basketball player in the United States is one of close to being seen as a god. Treated like royalty, programs assist in anyway in order to have you on the court ready to play on Monday night. But that’s the United States; lets take an even closer look at how life is for a college basketball player here at home, South Africa.
Basketball isn’t a major sport in South Africa, so it is understandable that there are luxuries afforded to other sporting codes that are not afforded to the basketball clubs across the country. However, basketball clubs continue to endure and use resources they have to bring in the best players they can and be competitive. Being seen as a priority athlete by a program in South Africa isn’t like that of one in USA, where all is catered to you and all the input needed for you to be at the program is pass school. Here in South Africa, especially at the University of Witwatersrand, your academics are a priority. Academics being a priority means that being seen as a priority athlete for the basketball club doesn’t guarantee entrance to the university, if academic requirements for your desired course are not met. A notable mention should be given to programs who stress the importance of academics as due to the basketball climate in South Africa which is currently under reformation is not one where students going to basketball programs can look to make a living off the sport of basketball as yet.
Here in South Africa, your academics are a priority.
So a big school such as Wits or Vaal recruited you. You applied, got in on your academics and did your orientation. What now? Now you have to find a balance between school and sports, a lecturer that doesn’t care that you played a game last night, and a crazy coach that has you running till 10pm at night! In addition, to the stresses of school and sport you also want to be a socialite in your own little way, enjoy the best of the nightlife the university has to offer you. This is where things get tricky. Making sure you don’t compromise yourself in such a way where you come to practice reeking of the party lifestyle, and being able to complete assignments on time, after coming back from practice DEAD TIRED. Some people make it work. Some people crumble under the pressure. This is where you got to stay focused, manage your time, enjoy your youth and take on the responsibilities of being a student-athlete. As a rookie in a team, the veterans will try give the best advice possible, the most recognizable being -“If you’re drowning, eject, leave, rethink your approach because if you don’t make the choice then university will choose for you and when that happens, you’ll be on your way out”. This is a vital piece of advice as it comes to what one prioritizes first. If the South African basketball climate was conducive for people to make a living from it, then it would make sense for a star talent to look at going to university and forgoing the majority of his/her studies to go professional and support their family in that capacity.
If you're drowning, eject, leave, rethink your approach because if you don’t make the choice then university will choose for you and when that happens, you’ll be on your way out
Unfortunately, that is not the case, and as a student athlete in South Africa, it is imperative that you complete school, and if blessed with the opportunity to play in the professional league that you do so knowing that you have a plan B to fall back on.
Article by : TrueBaller