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An Open letter To All Athletic Directors,

Thanks for all the work that you do for your student athletes. Your job is not easy and working around a pandemic was not in your job description, but you are a resilient group and you prevailed. Well done. The pandemic was not kind to your student athletes, and it is taking a toll on them. I am a mental health advocate not because I want to be, but because I lost two brothers to suicide and here we are.

Having the dual role of a student athlete is also not easy and a couple of high-profile suicides have me thinking about a couple of changes we could do to improve this situation. Below are my thoughts and I look forward to yours:

  • Shorten the season. I picked one sport, baseball, and a well-known division one college and this is how many games they played. Scale it back—70 is way too many!
Year # Of games played
1970 48
1980 49
1990 66
2000 69
2010 70
2020 17—Covid hit

Scale it back—70 is way too many! A D-1 woman’s soccer team played 14 games in 1984. They played 26 in the last full season before covid. Enough already.

  • Let the athletes relax during the offseason. Scale back the mandatory offseason workouts. Today’s athletes learn early on from the adults to specialize in one sport and put a ton of time into it. As a parent, I was guilty of this and had my kid swimming with another club while we were on vacation. Like most of the kids in that pool, he is not swimming competitively today. Let them be students, too.
  • Push the administration to find more regional conference alliances, so we can cut the time on the road for your athletes and staff. My alma mater, WVU, is in the Big 12 conference and their closest Big 12 institution is 871 miles away – Iowa State. That’s 12.5 hours by car, no stops. Boston College is in the same conference as the University of Miami, just 1,486 miles away. This is a money issue and will be a tough one to fight, but the athletes are worth it. These conference alignments are not good for the athletes, nor the environment. I thought all these colleges were into sustainability. Does not seem to be the case when it comes to athletics. It is time to take a long hard look at this and it won’t be easy. Big money from the TV folks dictates a lot of this, but they will still broadcast the games.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Dennis Gillan

Executive Director

Half a Sorrow Foundation

www.halfasorrow.org