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The high cost of free education for student athletes

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After the results of a PAC-12 study were released Conquest Chronicles' newest contributor Trajuan Briggs shared his personal experience as a Division 1 college athlete and his the true cost of his 'free' education.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It's 2 a.m. and I'm fighting myself from falling asleep as I finish up an eight-page sociology paper. As I finish up the last paragraph, I reflect on the day and ask myself "where did all the time go?" I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to make it to practice at 6, after practice class was from 8-2 p.m. From there I need to go back to the stadium for meetings that started at 3 and ended at 6:30. Not bad right? WRONG! It's time for study hall on campus, which goes from 7-10:30. By the time everything is done I'm home at 11 p.m., finishing up papers and doing additional studying for classes and football. If I'm lucky enough my nights finish up around one but that's rare. By the way did I mention this is my everyday schedule for my five years of college as a student athlete?

Being a student-athlete has been the most emotional, draining, and mental wreck of my life. Everyday my life demands a certain amount of attention, execution, and dedication to make sure I'm successful at my craft. At Cal-Berkeley and the University of New Mexico, school and sports were demanding requiring you to be on top of your game or you will surely be left behind. From 2010-2014 my life was crammed with injuries, surgeries, practice, school, and trying to balance my life. I was told college was supposed to teach me time management but life taught me time waits on no one. Managing my time consisted of taking time from areas in my life that I thought I could "afford" losing. My social life barely consisted of anyone outside of football, I barely had time to talk to family, and I couldn't keep a girlfriend to save my life. So many friendships took a toll in my life and I learned how to move on, I didn't have time to try to fix things if they didn't concern school or football.

I tried my best and fell short in some areas, my body physically couldn't handle the workload in the long run due to the consistent schedule and not having breaks. I was not the only one with this issue, many of my teammates failed classes, showed up late to practice, and some were even suspended. Some teammates like myself were even hindered by financial burdens, having no extra help from home and having to make our scholarship checks last. Most were unsuccessful having to take out loans or borrowing from teammates. We use to always sit there and think how can a billion dollar system that we make the money for only provide us with hundreds of dollar in return? If we want to be fair to our student athletes they should be paid off of a system that is based off of their performance & provided schedules to where they can balance their academics, sports, and social life.

Being a division one student-athlete taught me perseverance. I came across many sleepless nights, injuries that set me back at Cal and New Mexico, and times where I wanted to just give up. I lost valuable time as a football player with other things in life, I wasn't allowed to do internships, take certain classes due to scheduling, and just enjoy my life on a regular basis. Many people that weren't athletes thought we had it made, everything was given to us, and we had no worries. The reality was that we worked hard for our scholarships, maintained eligibility and above, performed on the field through injuries. I believe that many people do not see student-athletes for all the hard work they put in but the final product of things. At the end of the day though we need to support our student athletes and give them a chance to have a life.

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