Beyond Athletics Recruiting Responsibility

Lessons in Character and Judgment for Student-Athletes

(Flickr – Anna Enriquez)

The recent allegations of sexual assault surrounding Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane have disappointed many. Not just Chicago fans, or hockey fans, but fans of sports across the country who believe in (and need!) good role models in one of the highest stages in athletics. Sadly, Kane’s alleged offense is in the ever-trending realm of far too many other high-profile athletes; unspeakable violence against women.

What is going on here?

After Kane’s story broke earlier this month, various media outlets have done some deep-diving into the correlation between attacks on women and male pro-athletes.

From domestic violence charges coming from the homes of big names in the NFL and NBA, to sexual assault accusations from top players like Kane, all the way down to young men representing college programs, there are very specific parallels across almost all of these cases.

So what does this mean for current student-athletes?

Aside from the unfortunate happenstance that this is a very real, very scary, very relevant and common topic in today’s the sporting world, I believe student-athletes across the country – both male and female – have something to learn about character and judgment from these sad and frightening headlines.

If you have even the slightest feeling you shouldn’t be somewhere,you shouldn’t be there.

In no way do I mean to imply the victims of assault deserve any part of the blame. It is simply a reminder to trust your gut.

As a high school or college student-athlete, you’re going to find yourselves in many new and exciting situations. As a student-athlete, you have the unique opportunity to meet new people and be exposed to new things on a regular basis.

Many experiences – I like to believe the majority – will be wonderful. However, there may be a time where something just doesn’t feel right. Whether it’s what the people around you are doing, or the location you happen to be in, or just the tiny nag in your tummy or your heart that’s telling you something is “off”.

Get out of there.

Fake a headache, a stomachache, a deadline you forgot about, simply ask to be taken home, or just get up and walk out. Whether anything negative was going to happen or not, don’t wait around to find out. Leaving the minute you feel uncomfortable will take bravery, but it is a simple way to ensure immediate relief, and could save your future and your life.

Over half of domestic violence and sexual assault cases involve alcohol consumption.

This statistic really isn’t all that surprising, is it? And as a student-athlete, (who’s more than likely underage), can you really think of a single good reason to not only drink alcohol, but to be somewhere where others are?

For starters, alcohol consumption can be harmful to your body, so it can only hinder your progress in the gym and nutritionally.

Next, if you are underage, it’s against the law. Plain and simple.

And the most important thing to consider when it comes to the use and abuse of alcohol? It’s a mind altering substance.

It can impair your judgement, your reflexes, it can turn you into someone you’re not. Even when you become of-age, drinking is nothing to take lightly for these reasons and many more.

The bottom line: It’s no coincidence alcohol has played a role in so many of these horrific cases. There is absolutely no reason to be drinking, and there’s absolutely no reason to be around people who are as a student-athlete.

It takes years to build a good reputation, and only minutes to ruin it.

On the same note as above, what you’re doing in your free time, what you’re doing “when no one’s watching,” says a lot about you and a lot about your character.

Being a high school recruit or collegiate student-athlete already says something definite about you: that you’ve had to work really, really hard.

While it’s important to be true to yourself, as a student-athlete, you have to care about your reputation and what people are saying about you.

Saying no to friends that want to party or get into things you know are not right is not easy. It takes a lot of will and a ton of guts, but is going to be worth it in the long run when it comes to how you are viewed by teachers, parents, and college coaches. Making headlines for the right reasons starts and ends with your choices.

The best part about athletics? You have an entire team behind you.

Sexual assault and domestic violence are very hard topics to read about and discuss.

Trust me, it took me a lot of time to find the right way to address such a very sensitive and unfortunate subject happening in sports. But just because something isn’t easy, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.

It’s up to you, as the next generations of college and professional athletes, to right this awful track record. As student-athletes, you have an entire team behind you. Talk about this stuff with your teammates, friends, coaches and parents. Be a support network for each other. Lean on your team, on your coaches, and work together to give yourselves the absolute best chance of staying out of trouble or harm, and onward to changing these currently trending headlines in sports.

Our scouts can help you get to the next level so you can change headlines. Get the most out of your recruiting. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

About the author
Laura Chmiel

Laura Chmiel is a marketing coordinator and a lead writer for NCSA Athletic Recruiting. As someone with a passion for athletics and education, she graduated from Indiana university with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After school, she gained first-hand experience helping student-athletes and their families get to college.