The Hidden Fear in College Athletics

For You From The Word

Fear and trembling have come upon me. (Psalm 55:5, AMP)

For You To Think About

female athlete on running trackIn spite of Title IX (the 1972 education legislation requiring equal gender treatment in athletics), female student-athletes who become pregnant continue to fear losing renewals to their athletic scholarships. Lack of understanding and lack of support contribute to that fear.

This hidden fear plaguing pregnant student-athletes came into the public eye in 2007 when a Clemson University athlete shared her story with ESPN . She had already had one abortion when she discovered she was pregnant a second time in fall 2006.

“Think about your options,” a university administrator warned her, when the athlete made an appointment not knowing where else to turn. “If [Coach] finds out [about your pregnancy] and if you decide to keep the baby, that scholarship is gone.” NCAA limits athletic scholarships to fixed one-year terms with discretionary renewal.

That conversation played “a big, big part in my decision,” said the athlete. “That’s the first thing I thought about: I’m losing my scholarship.” During the prior year, the student had been asked to sign a team document indicating that athletic grants may be modified in the event of pregnancy.

Fear ultimately drove the athlete’s decision to have a second abortion. She felt she had no other option.

Just two months after the ESPN broadcast, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (charged with enforcing Title IX) responded with a letter to federally-funded colleges nationwide, reminding them of their obligation to equal medical treatment for pregnant students.  The now-infamous letter banned dismissing a student-athlete’s scholarship because of pregnancy. Discretionary renewal for a pregnant student is less well-defined.

What if student-athletes have a Friend to walk with during pregnancy … provide information and options about a decision for life … connect her with legal support … encourage her return to physical fitness after pregnancy… and if necessary, help her find alternative ways to finance her education in ensuing years?

Things can turn out differently for student-athletes and their babies when they have a Friend.

For You To Pray

Gracious Father,
Let student-athletes know the truth: they can have support during a pregnancy. They needn’t walk through this season of their lives alone.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

More about College Students and Pregnancy

Provide a Safe Space on Campus for Pregnant Students

Why One College Student Was Able to Choose Life

How to Save Lives on College Campuses

This entry was posted in Friends4Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply