By Ian Serrer
In all the 15 years I’ve been in school, I faced the most trouble from a professor during my freshman year in English 110.
Like most English classes, it had its challenges, but the schoolwork wasn’t the biggest trial. The professor, who will not be named, was a bigger challenge to deal with than the work. We’ve all had some difficult professors, but this was unlike anything I’d previously dealt with.
I play baseball and did so back then, which means I missed about a third of the classes because of games. My professor couldn’t stand the fact that I was an athlete and was missing class because of a sport. “Class time is game time, Ian,” the professor would say. Although I didn’t really care back then, I now see that, indeed, class time was game time and missing nine straight classes, like I did on one instance, was ridiculous. Athletes should take more academic responsibility by not missing so much class.
There is a fine line between flexibility and abusing the system. Flexibility is the professors giving grace and helping out the student-athletes when they have a game and have to miss class. Athletes have to be respectful and let the professor know ahead of time that they will be missing class and work out what they can do to make up or stay ahead in the class.
Unfortunately, we’re not always as respectful as we should be and that is where my story from the beginning comes back. In that English class, out of those nine straight absences, only six were from baseball. The others were from me abusing the flexibility given by that professor.
Abusing the system is something athletes are doing. I did it when I was a freshman who didn’t take my schoolwork seriously. Regardless of my grade, which was a B, I wasn’t benefiting from what the class time offered, and I was taking complete advantage of the power I had.
For example, if we had a game Monday and Friday, I would skip Wednesday and say we had another game; or if we played Wednesday and Friday, I would skip Monday and say we were busy. This was way too easy until the professor called me out, irritated with my lack of attendance and concern. The professor had no idea that I was skipping, though. I could have kept missing, but I stopped abusing the system, eventually.
Professors want athletes in class, and I think right now at Asbury, we need every professor to be given their students’ athletic schedules. I also think our excuse forms, at least for baseball, need to be given to us before the games and on time. For us to respect the system and flexibility, we have to start by working with the professors and letting them know what is going on ahead of time.
“For me, student is the first word in student-athlete, and being respectful of that by being in class,” said Professor Emily Walsh, who was an athlete in college. “Certain athletes, not all athletes of course, have to understand that if you are taking unexcused absences in addition to excused absences, that can be received by us as professors as a lack of respect and responsibility,” she added.
Walsh is a professor who understands the academic strains placed on athletes, but she expects her students to show her the same respect and coordinate when they are going to miss for games. She expects them in class when they are not travelling or playing a game.
Again, not all athletes are abusing the flexibility given by professors, but the student-athletes who are taking advantage of the system need to be more responsible. As college athletes at a small Christian school, we are called to a higher standard of excellence in the classroom, in the public and on the field. We are students first, and we cannot be abusing the system and missing class.