Florida coach Jim McElwain tweeted this slick graphic about Florida football players' schedules early Monday morning:
Surely, this is from a recruiting package Florida hands to potential players — my guess is it's part of a nice, glossy brochure — and, for what it is, it's very effective.
Here's the full-size image.
The schedule makes sure to mention that a player could "wake up in a dorm that feels like a luxury apartment," have seemingly ritzy food options ("lobster, steak, grilled chicken, pasta"), and attend a school ranked "1st in the SEC and 3rd among all public colleges in the nation," with the "highest graduated success rate in the SEC." (I think that last bit should actually be "Graduation Success Rate.").
Florida also touts shiny new facilities: The summer 2015 renovation of the Keys Complex (which isn't Florida's "athletic dorm"; that would be Springs, likely to get a renovation in years to come), the fall 2015 completion of its indoor practice facility, the spring 2016 reopening of the "Farrior Hall Office of Study Life" — it's the Office of Student Life — and the new Gatorade Fuel Bar in the bowels of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium all get mentioned.
The watch pictured in the center of the graphic? It is, of course, an Apple Watch.
One thing that doesn't get explictly mentioned, conspicuously, despite this ostensibly being a schedule and not a list of the product features of Florida football, is the fact that the schedule Florida lays out for its football players is a 15-hour slog.
Here's that itinerary, stripped of the bright colors and ads:
- 6:00-7:00 a.m.: Wake up
- 7:00-7:45 a.m.: Eat breakfast
- 8:00-11:30 a.m.: Class
- 12:00-12:30 p.m.: Eat lunch
- 12:30-1:30 p.m.: Lift
- 1:30-2:30 p.m.: Fuel and recover
- 2:30-3:30 p.m.: Meetings
- 3:30-5:30 p.m.: Practice
- 6:00-6:30 p.m.: Fuel and recover
- 6:30-7:00 p.m.: Eat
- 7:30-9:00 p.m.: Study
Savor those 30-minute breaks between the end of class and lunch and the end of dinner and study hall, kids: They're all you're going to get.
I write this not to pick on Florida — though, uh, lose the typos, guys — but because we rarely get as clear a delineation of the extraordinary effort put forth by "student-athletes" to play sports (and be college students) at the level Florida's phenomenally successful athletic program demands.
I probably woke up at 6 a.m. no more than 10 times across my entire collegiate experience, which spanned more than five years, and I scheduled maybe one or two classes beginning at 8 a.m. over the dozens of courses I took at Florida. For a Florida football player, waking up at 6 a.m. is a fact of life. So is a three-hour block of classes beginning at 8 a.m. that was plotted out by advisors. So is spending four hours of every afternoon on mandatory football duties — the maximum allowed to be mandated by the NCAA in season, though extra work is always encouraged and typically praised — and so is the hour and a half of studying after the completion of a 13-hour day.
This schedule is a work schedule. The work done by "student-athletes" is hard work. There is "no time to lose," of course, because inefficiency is the bane of businesses.
And the sooner we come to terms with all that, and work to correct the half-truths about the nature of the work "student-athletes" do that form the basis of college athletics, the better off we'll all be.