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LPAPs unncessary and potentially dangerous for Rice varsity athletes

By Connor Hayes     3/17/11 7:00pm

More than halfway through my final semester as a student at Rice, I have begun to realize that I rarely take time to reflect on my experience as an Owl. Many seniors panic at this point in their academic careers, terrified of missing something on their Rice "bucket list," now faced with the realization that they will soon be unable to ever go back and relive their glory days.

I, on the other hand, have searched and searched for the answer to my life's most pressing and infuriating question and simply cannot find an answer: Why in God's name do I have to take LPAPs?

Although I sometimes have the reputation as someone who takes next to nothing seriously, I must remind you that this piece and the problem from which it has stemmed are of the utmost importance.

As you read this over breakfast or your mid-morning poop, I will have already completed a hard week of practice as an athlete on the Men's Track and Field team. In my training I run, I sometimes jump over things, lift weights and can't go out most weekends because of competitions. Being a student athlete has been difficult but rewarding, as athletic successes help to forget the parties missed or the late nights spent catching up in classes.

For one reason or another, someone in the past decided that my aforementioned training regimen (which, to be fair, is much less strenuous and time consuming than that of some other teams) was not enough to make letter-winning athletes exempt from the LPAP requirement. The goal of the program is to "make physical fitness an everyday part of the Rice community's lives," yet participating in a varsity sport six days a week doesn't seem to be an equivalent for those calling the shots inside the hedges. I guess my LPAP classes are making up for not having practice on Sunday.

I will grant that the LPAP program provides many benefits to those students who otherwise wouldn't participate in physical activity, but why can we not count a varsity letter as the equivalent of an LPAP course?

To be clear, in no way do I feel that athletes at Rice deserve superior treatment to other students. I have made a huge effort over the past four years to embrace and participate in the college system and the culture of Rice as well as any student-athlete or not. However, the fact that I have to play tennis every Tuesday and Thursday morning as some sort of athletic hors d'oeuvres is absolutely ridiculous. While the class, its instructor and my fellow students are all great, I fail to see what is gained from my forced attendance.

Not only are LPAPs a hindrance to training schedules, they also put student athletes at injury risk. Varsity athletes can "play it safe" when participating, but doesn't that defeat the entire purpose of the program? While I understand that there are some classroom style LPAPs that would solve the problem of potential injury, each student athlete is already forced to attend workshops on nutrition, wellness and alcohol consumption at the beginning of every school year. In other words, any athlete taking a nutrition LPAP (and let's be honest, every athlete takes HEAL 103: Nutrition anyway) is volunteering to sit through a mind-numbing reiteration of years of advice already received from coaches and athletic trainers.

I am hopeful that this piece will not further contribute to a sometimes sour campus-wide perception of student athletes, but something needs to be done to change this clear oversight. Otherwise, I might just have to tear my ACL next Tuesday to prove a point.

Connor Hayes is a Baker College senior.

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