Student athletes work hard

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Some college basketball players are calling out the NCAA for an ad that paints a misleading portrayal of a day in the life of a “student-athlete.”

The 30-second ad has been in heavy rotation during NCAA Tournament games and portrays the athlete’s daily routine as almost idyllic: classes, a run, a game, a visit to the library after the game and then a restful night’s sleep with a peaceful smile on his face. “If you have the talent and the dedication to succeed in school and in sports,” a voice-over says at the end, “we’ll provide the opportunity.”

But a number of players in the tournament who were interviewed last weekend by The News & Observer of Raleigh were not impressed.

North Carolina Tar Heel forward Cameron Johnson would like to know what planet that guy lives on. The daily routine of a college athlete, Johnson, a graduate student who also is the Tar Heels’ leading scorer, “ain’t a breezy existence.” It’s work.

Johnson added: “I mean, the guy is kind of floating through (his day).”

Said one of Johnson’s teammates, Sterling Manley, “That is not the life of an athlete by any means.”

Other players were more succinct. “Completely inaccurate, honestly,” said an Iowa forward, Tyler Cook.

What the ad doesn’t show, of course, are the early morning workouts before class. Games that may begin at 10 p.m. (to maximize TV ratings and revenue) and may end well after midnight, followed by news conferences and media interviews. And sore muscles and injuries.

When is an athlete supposed to be a student after all of that?

And for all this, you get paid nothing while coaches, schools, TV networks, shoe companies and the NCAA cash in.

So, yes, even as we enjoy the next round of March Madness, we should view those ubiquitous day-in-the-life ads for what they are: not real.

Just ask the people who are actually living those days.

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