Why India needs a Student Athlete Federation
The concept of a student athlete in India is relatively unknown compared to many Ivy League schools and colleges in Western countries like USA and UK. Student athletes are students who are pursuing their studies in any field of their choice as well as training after and before school. Yes, they’re heard of but they don’t have a proper form of representation in academics or normal society. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a body governing North American student athletes. They provide representation, scholarships and facilities to student athletes. Visitors checking the page for Indian basketball players (as it is the only current eligible sport on the website) aspiring to go abroad to study and gain further opportunities in basketball are greeted with a form of eligibility and further updates in the future. The website however hasn’t updated the content for aspiring Indian players since 2019. This shows our lack of representation in not only basketball but other sports abroad. It is important that before we show progress in other countries, we need to address the issue within. A student athlete has a lot of responsibilities. Attending lectures along with managing training and extra homework/schoolwork is undoubtedly burdening and despite all the hurdles, our country manages to turn up some of the most brilliant players to represent India in the Olympics in Hockey, Shooting and Wrestling. What about the other sports? If our student athletes receive special concessions and representation nationwide, then our future in all sports events will prosper. A research study by JORDAN, J. M., & DENSON, E. L titled “Student Services for Athletes: A Model for Enhancing the Student-Athlete Experience” states that with resources such as 24x7 support, a positive atmosphere and facilities providing mental and physical health support, student athletes will flourish in both academics and athletics alike. Some of the common reasons student athletes drop their aspiring wishes to be a sportsperson are due to low funds, pressure from family and lack of resources or facilities to train, among other issues. What would be a solution to this predicament is to introduce scholarships for student athletes in universities and colleges, concessions in academics and a healthy support system to ensure stable mental and physical health. The way to go about achieving this is to establish a body governing student athletes in India similar to the NCAA. Such a federation will bring about massive change in our sports as more talented athletes who now struggle to manage academics and training will thrive with the help and support of people and educational institutions. It would cover student athletes by providing physical and mental health facilities, concessions for travelling and living accommodations, and notification of upcoming competitions and events. They can help provide a platform for students who are gifted in a sport and wish to make it a career. Lastly, a student athlete federation will show the people of India that sports is a very promising venture and making a living as a sportsperson is definitely possible. Sports is still a relatively developing field, with corporate world offering better opportunities, athletes have to switch over to the latter to provide a better future for themselves. With the advent of a Student Athlete Federation however, it doesn’t have to be. Scholarships, amenities and a supportive atmosphere will greatly ease the burden of our student athletes who balance the union of academics and athletics to represent and play for our country.