Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Introducing First-Year Student-Athletes to the Library

Introducing First-Year Student-Athletes to the Library I just gave a tour and orientation session for the freshmen football players. They were a good group and I enjoyed teaching to them. I got excellent questions and commentary from them as well. One of the students sat at the instructor station. Before he could finish his joke and take another seat, I drafted him and had him type in the examples while I walked around the room and lectured. I bet he doesn't forget his library orientation!

Anyway, later I told a colleague about the session. Unfortunately, I got the "athletes are pampered, dumb, and given special treatment" response from her. I was annoyed but not surprised. Bias against student-athletes is rampant in higher education. How pampered are athletes? Lets see, they have no free time as they are always required to be in class, practicing, at a study table, or travelling to games. They are forbidden to hold jobs. And they have to jump through multiple NCAA requirements like the "do not gamble" seminar every semester. And people assume they are dumb and look down on them. For this, they get no payment except for free classes, food, and a dorm room. Mind you, the university will profit financially from their labor even as the athletes don't. Few make it to the pros.

If sports in higher education is bad, then let's move to eliminate them. In the meantime, we should not give the student-athletes anything but our best. They are not responsible for the system. We owe the athletes a quality education. Being taught about library skills is an important part of this process. Librarians need to reach out to student-athletes and help educate them and provide them with services. This is one special population that needs the outreach. I hope the anti-athlete bias is becoming rarer and starting to die at most places.