The Sporting Insider: Student Athletes’ View
By Josh Sellmeyer
In my 16 years as an athlete, I’ve gone through many of the same triumphs and tribulations that the typical college athlete has. I’ve played in state championship soccer games, district tennis matches and playoff baseball games. I’ve won some, and I’ve lost some.
I’ve been fortunate enough to win awards for my accomplishments on and off the field. And I’ve been ridiculed for putting so much effort into what amounts to nothing more than a “silly little game.”
And you know what? I don’t think any of this makes me different from a majority of the student athletes at Webster University.
Webster athletes — past and present — have played in crucial games. They’ve won championships with their school and club teams. They’ve wept after defeat. They’ve been honored for their athletic and academic abilities. Numerous Webster athletes have certainly been laughed at for choosing to attend an NCAA Division III university. I know I have.
No athletic scholarships? Then no thanks.
But what the naysayers don’t see — what they can’t understand — is that for a majority of student athletes at the D III level, it’s all worth it in the end. The pain, the wind sprints, the extra hours in the gym. It doesn’t matter that almost all of us athletes won’t be going pro in sports. Life goes on.
College is an experience, and for many, athletics plays an integral role in that experience. That goes for me and the 200 or so other Webster athletes. Which is why it’s such a privilege to be able to write this column, and hopefully, to represent the perspective of the student athlete. That’s my goal.
So many of the sports personalities you hear on the radio, see on T.V. and read in print don’t really know what it’s like to be a legitimate athlete. They talk a big game, but ask them to get onto the playing field and strut their stuff, and comedy ensues. Can you trust a sports writer who’s never actually played a sport? I’d rather not.
Will writing this biweekly column be a challenge? You’d better believe it. I play on the soccer and tennis teams at Webster, so I won’t be covering those two sports. But even then, the waters are murky and tricky to navigate.
How do I separate the student athlete from the student journalist? How do I remain objective towards athletic-related decisions, even though I’m smack dab in the middle of what’s going on? Is it even possible for me to remain objective? Is it possible for anyone?
So many questions, such a small word count. I separate — rather — I attempt to separate, the athlete from the journalist by being honest and up-front. I let the people in the athletic department know that not only do I play two university-sponsored sports, I write for a campus newspaper. Transparency is the only answer.
Whether objectivity even exists might be a better question for a media ethics class, so I’ll simply leave you with this: Should journalists who live in St. Louis be able to write for the Post-Dispatch? Should Webster students be permitted to write for The Journal?
The answer is simple: yes. Those who are close to the news ought to be the ones writing it. They have the most insight; they have experienced the same issues as the people they’re covering.
As a student athlete, I’ve been through many of the same things as you. I don’t believe that my interest in playing sports should get in the way of my love of writing about sports (or vice versa).
For the upcoming semester, I hope to be the student athlete’s voice. My columns will be timely, thought-provoking and, at times, controversial. I’ll give it my best shot.