For all intensive purposes, UCLA star quarterback Josh Rosen is a normal college student: he wants to go to class, get his degree, get a job, and start his own business.
Of course, Rosen isn’t your normal college student or even your normal student-athlete. He’s the face of UCLA football. But that doesn’t stop the outspoken quarterback from introspective takes on that broad term placed upon him and other athletes in high school and college.
In an interview with Bleacher Report’s Matt Hayes, Rosen gave his candid thoughts on the illusion that is the student-athlete:
Look, football and school don’t go together. They just don’t. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs. There are guys who have no business being in school, but they’re here because this is the path to the NFL. There’s no other way.
— Matt Hayes (@MattHayesCFB) August 8, 2017
For a smart and thoughtful kid like Rosen, staying eligible to play for UCLA doesn’t come as an impossible feat, but he seems to understand the term “eligible” on a much deeper level than most.
Any time any player puts into school will take away from the time they could put into football. They don’t realize that they’re getting screwed until it’s too late. You have a bunch of people at the universities who are supposed to help you out, and they’re more interested in helping you stay eligible. At some point, universities have to do more to prepare players for university life and help them succeed beyond football. There’s so much money being made in this sport. It’s a crime to not do everything you can to help the people who are making it for those who are spending it.
To Rosen, the problem lies with the school, not the student-athlete’s ability to play football or retain knowledge from class. Why risk athletic performance over academic performance? Or vice versa.
Colleges love to boast student-athletes academic achievements whether that be dean’s list, All-Academic team, or early graduation, but what about the others that are simply just eligible? They, too, can and should be assisted, elevated, and publicized like the small percentage of the players that are more than just eligible.
Of the 120 student-athletes on the UCLA football roster, 43 made the honor roll. I certainly do applaud the achievements of those 43, it is no easy task, but what should we make of other 65% of the team? Are they sacrificing any less? Probably not.
Rosen is right when he says that “every young person should be able to have that dream and the ability to access it,” and he shouldn’t be chastised for wanting to have a “seamless transition to life and work” after football for himself or his peers.
Sometimes you have to be in it to see beyond the illusion of the ‘student-athlete.’ Rosen just seems to understand better than most what football is for(money), and what school is about(tools for the real world).