By Avery Throneberry
Being a college athlete has strict regulations, and the University of Kentucky, an SEC school, football players are held to a different standard than most college athletes.
The University of Kentucky is not usually known by football fans to be one of the top influential schools, but their games and records improving season after season, has proven they can continue to reach a standard of influence (John Talty al.com). Other SEC coaches respect Kentucky’s big break and consistent underdog wins and what Mark Stoops, head coach, has done for the program.
“A really consistent program, maybe the most steady in our league. They’re smart recruiters, and they have a nice development system in place,” said an anonymous user on aseaofblue.com.
After speaking with Chance Poore, kicker at the University of Kentucky, about home games compared to away games, Poore stated there is not much of a difference. Poore says, “Home and away games are typically the same other than the traveling aspect. We stay in hotel rooms home and away; away games are just a little more unfamiliar. Getting used to the stadium isn’t too tough, most of the time whether its home or away, the main focus is the game.”
Being an SEC athlete at the university of Kentucky includes pressures and high expectations. Kroger Field holds nearly 61,000 people. Those included are season ticket holders, fans, family and almost 2,500 students. The feeling of almost 75% of the home stadium filled with fans is like no other.
The Kentucky football athletes also face immense pressures off the field. The expectations are high in classrooms and public places. The SEC itself holds athletes to a 1.8 GPA, but to be a Kentucky Wildcat, a 2.0 is the set standard. Most of the players, though, set themselves to a higher standard.
For example, Poore is a business major, whose concerns are not within the eligibility of what Kentucky or the SEC holds, but what the business school holds, which is a 3.0 GPA.
One of the challenges faced in the classroom includes, as Poore states, “being bashed if I do poorly in a game or even people thinking I don’t take my academics seriously because of one missed class or being a D1 athlete.”
Feeling like a normal person outside of athletics is even more challenging. Dating is one example of this. Many college students have girlfriends/boyfriends and can express their relationship how they want. Chance Poore on the other hand, has not had it so easy he states, “My girlfriend and I were at Keeneland enjoying the races, when a random person came up to me talking about how good the season is going.”
The SEC is looked at by many fans for being the best conference in college football, and with Kentucky’s big wins and recruits, expectations are even higher, especially because this program has not been this good in years. After a 6-0 start to the 2021 season, a devasting loss to Georgia and Mississippi State really frustrated some fans. This puts more of a pressure on the team as they prepared to play their game against Tennessee.
“People get livid after a loss. Things are not just easy given or handed to us. We have to work extremely hard for it. For me, things are harder when I am expected to execute everything perfectly. After every mistake, the words he sucks are always spoken out of someone’s mouth,” Poore states.
Finally, being an athlete includes the promotions and brand deals as a way for them to make money. Effective July 1st, 2021, the NCAA changed their policies, now allowing college athletes to make money off endorsements. Some of these include barstool athletics, food, clothing and so many other different opportunities.
Chance Poore has NIL deals that he is working with now that this policy is allowed. He said that he is not making as much as more popular athletes, but he is just grateful to be able to benefit from his name. He concludes that this is a huge benefit now of being a college athlete.
The standards Mark Stoops has made is not only for the program but for the players as well. SEC schools will look at everything they can to make sure you qualify for eligibility for the season. Being a Kentucky Wildcat is an amazing opportunity, especially with what Stoops has done for the boys.
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