A lot of the time, university students may feel that they are insignificant or their opinions don’t hold much weight- especially student athletes who are so focused on going to practice and class.
Why would somebody want to hear another opinion or idea when there are so many out there? The fact of the matter, is everyone’s opinions matter and everyone’s voices need to be heard.
Student athletes have the perfect platform to speak up. With so much of the student body attending sporting events, fellow peers look up to them. Athletes in general are held to a higher standard because of that time in the spotlight.
Look at any social media platform today, or turn on the news, and there will be stories about athletes of all levels, high school through professional. What we do now in college, matters. What we post, what we say, how we express ourselves matters- whether we are athletes or not.
Even though they aren’t much different from normal people, athletes have God-given talent that sets them apart. Everyone has his or her own set of unique talents. They have that competitive drive which typically carries over in to all aspects of their lives.
Universities across the nation, including Harding, participate in the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. SAAC is a program set up by the NCAA that gives an additional outlet for student athletes to share their voices.
Division I, II and III universities each have individual SAACs. Here, student athletes are able to provide insight to others about their experiences, input on rules, regulations or policies that affect them.
So where does Harding tie in to this? Harding has their own SAAC that does many things behind the scenes that some may not even know about.
The Bisons football program started a program called Bison Buddies. It originated as the football team going to local elementary schools, sitting in classrooms and helping with children.
Whether it is reading with them or to them, helping with math problems, or just being there for the kids, this was the purpose behind the program. Bison Buddies has now grown to reach outside of Searcy limits to the next town over in Judsonia, and each sports team on campus is involved.
Besides Bison Buddies, the SAAC at Harding participates in Make-A-Wish each year. Usually at a big basketball game, the SAAC sends around a bucket to collect donations that go directly to a child. There is also a lot of work done prior to this in fundraising as well.
I say all this to make a point that yes, student athletes do have a voice. In some ways, the voice is louder than others because of the public. Even though this is just a Division II school, even a kind gesture or a kind word can go a long way and have a lasting impact that may seem like nothing at the time.
I’d like to think that the SAAC is just another way Harding is giving athletes an opportunity to make a positive impact on the world around them.