The university has done well in showing its concern for its student-athletes, who know the risks associated with the sports they play. The recent hiring of a full-time club sports physical trainer, as well as the dedicated physical therapy staff for varsity athletes, demonstrates administrators’ resolve to protect their student-athletes. However, junior linebacker Ty Williams’ injury ought to serve as a wake-up call that student-athlete safety and well-being must continue to be an unquestionable priority of the Athletic Department, not only on the field, but in the classroom as well.
The reality of college sports is that the high level of competition results in a high level of risk. Injuries suffered in college can be catastrophic not only for athletic careers, but also for any future life course; studies have shown that former players who didn’t receive adequate care during the peak of their careers suffer from greater rates of dementia and memory loss.
For many players, who after graduation, will return to normal jobs like the rest of their peers, this is a troubling statistic. Taking this into consideration, the Athletic Department must continue to enhance its current efforts in protecting its student-athletes physically and academically.
Further collaboration between the Academic Resource Center and the Athletic Department is a good starting point. As Anderson De Andrade, a junior goalkeeper wrote, being on a sports team at Georgetown is “like going to school and balancing a full-time job” where athletes must “meet the demands of both our professors and our coaches, while constantly striving to better ourselves and prove our disbelievers wrong” (“The Truth About Being a Georgetown Student Athlete,” The Hoya, March 11th, 2015, A3).
Were the ARC and the AD to come together to create custom guidance programs that cater to the needs of different student-athletes, depending on course of study and sport practiced, administrators would be able to ensure that athletes are excelling in the classroom as well as on the field or court.
In the days after Williams suffered an injury playing against St. Francis University, friends and peers hung a large poster in Red Square to show their support. The students and faculty banded together in the face of tragedy and reminded us that Hoyas are truly women and men for others. It’s time for the Athletic Department to show the same amount of care and support.