Before I get into what I have to say, I want everyone to read this story from Steve Eder and read it carefully. It’s called, “Some Dietitians Say College Athletes Are Underfed.” Whether you’re a coach, an administrator or a fan, I want you to read that story that features information and comments from dietitian experts.
Have you read it yet? OK, now that you’ve gotten through it, I’ve got a couple of thoughts I want to share with you.
What’s in that story is another case of why we have to change some things with how our current system is run. When kids are prevented from being fed because rules are in place, we have a problem.
Since classes have ended and we’ve had our team for extended hours with “Camp Cal,” we have found out a number of things. One of those is that our players have actually lost weight since the beginning of the year. I’ve been on them about their conditioning, but part of the reason they’ve been so exhausted in practice and in games is their energy levels have been low.
You can say that’s for a number of reasons, but one of them is they aren’t eating enough. Under the current rules, if a young man eats at our training table and wants to take some food for later, he can’t. It’s either eat it all there or go hungry the rest of the night.
We have a kitchen here that should be open for these kids whenever they want to eat. What do they do if they’re at home and they want a sandwich at night? They walk down to the kitchen and get it. My own son does that at home. Here, under the current rules we have, we can’t.
The response we get is, “Well, they can eat whenever, they’ve just got to go out and buy it like a normal student.” I hate to break it to you, these aren’t normal students. We ask a lot of them and demand a huge chunk of their schedules. They aren’t afforded the time that normal students have.
Also, athletes do not eat three times a day. They eat – and need to eat – five, six and sometimes seven times a day. Ask Michael Phelps. He spends every waking moment of the day trying to get calories into his system because he knows he’s going to have to burn all that energy once he competes.
We go so hard and train so much that these kids exert and spend a lot of energy. Are we not going to let them refuel? If they want to grab some a snack at their dorm because they’re starving after a practice, we aren’t going to let them because there aren’t snacks at the other dorms?
Now that school is out and we are able to feed the team while they’re here over the break, my guys are eating a solid three meals a day. They are gaining their weight back and showing more energy. We’re improving as a team for a lot of reasons, but one of them is because we aren’t limited in what we can feed them so they are coming to practice with more energy. They aren’t being underfed like they are during the school semesters.
We should all demand that we do something for these athletes. We’re signing billion-dollar agreements and moving teams across the country for money, and yet we’re worried about kids eating a sandwich at night. That’s what we’re worried about? It needs to stop now. We need to concentrate on the issues that matter and take care of our kids.