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  • Is the NCAA a too Paternalistic Governing Body to Athletes?

      The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) oversees competitions and athletic related endeavors of thousands of colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. The organization requires athletes to fill out myriads of forms prior to competition, and occasionally prior to attending formal practice. Some of the questions asked of athletes are: Do they work? Where do they work? How much do they make? Do they live with family or independently?  How much does their room and board cost? Understandably, they are ensuring fair pricing and equal salaries to other employees. However I question, is this too invasive? As per their anti-doping policies, they mandate all athletes to disclose any banned substances of which they were prescribed. Besides the NCAA, this information is additionally disclosed to athletic departments, coaches, and athletic trainers. 

      NCAA athletes are a part of something much greater than themselves, but what they sacrifice is of grand significance not realized until already signed up.  Although they devote countless hours to practice, studying, and pastime alongside family and friends, inevitably they’re signing away their privacy. What they sign is infamously dubbed the Buckley Amendment Form. This form transcends the seals of HIPAA, as well as FERPA mediated seals of confidentiality, which provides the NCAA, coaching staff, and athletic departments academic and medical information. The content issued includes but is not limited to, grade point average, and completed courses fulfilled in both high school and college. Additionally, they gain understanding of accommodations they seek, as well as what medical conditions such accommodations are purposed for. This is confidential medical information, and athletes are providing strangers and coaches sensitive and defining details. This enables unnecessary transference and counter-transference among athletes and staff. Ultimately, this can create room for hate crimes, and both implicit, as well as explicit biases. Athletes and coaches must feel comfortable for the presence of sustainable emotional well-being, as well as the utmost amount of success. With athletes feeling violated and vulnerable in numerous ways, this can occlude success by promoting feelings of vulnerability, as well as perpetuate hate crimes and an abusive culture, manufacturing toxic relationships between athletes and athletic staff. Instead of understanding specifics of the student athlete’s biochemistry and morphology, they should have remained obscured by boundaries composing confidentiality. In order for athletes to feel safe, some personal information should remain obscured; not only to protect athletes, but also considering multicultural perspectives of such data. Some medical conditions are perceived as faults of parenting by certain cultural groups, which can ostracize both athletes and athletic staff. One possible solution to combat this problem is by hiring a separate staff member or organization to process such dire material.

      During college, many athletes take on loads of new responsibilities, which can result in an abundance of stress. Unfortunately, this can lead to mental health falling to the wayside, and heighten the prominence of mental illness. During these formative years, student athletes would benefit from forbidding sleazy people to unveil their struggles. Though open dialogue among coaches and student health services can potentially be beneficial, this practice may not have the student’s best interest.

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    Dale News Online Publication: August 2023