I went to a competitive academic school long ago on athletic scholarship (at a highly ranked academic school). Unlike the author, I had virtually no parental support - my single divorced mother was unemployed and often ill. So I was stuck on scholarship - and felt that pressure all four years. My brother was a national level high school runner too - he went to school on athletic scholarship and feels the same way now as I do. He posts here occasionally, and is world renowned in his field - track and field is in the distant rear view mirror for both of us.
I was a good student - so I always found solace notwithstanding the stress and the pressure - I truly felt privileged to obtain an education - every day I couldn't believe I had the same chance at an education as the generally extremely wealthy kids who were my classmates. I don't quite get the author's reaction at the wealth of her classmates - sure I felt out of place, but heck, get me in the classroom - where I could learn and escape from the dull union gig I held for 8 weeks in the summer - and I was so excited I didn't care how much money other people had. There wasn't a day that went by that I didn't think I was one of the luckiest people around - coming from nothing and having nothing - to have this land in my lap.
And certainly I didn't have eating disorder issues. If I didn't eat junk and kept my mileage up (not easy because I never was a high mileage runner - a 35 mile a week guy at most in high school), I ran at 132 instead of 138. So I fortunately cannot relate to the eating disorder thing - it is foreign to me - but of course the science today informs me to take it very seriously.
In any event, to the parents who really think that a scholarship is a be all and end all - think again. It is a different world today - internships - planning for a career - they for most of us are really important - and athletics must be put in perspective. College athletics if not handled properly serves to gratuitously postpone adolescence - I am not sure that is healthy. To the parent with the nationally ranked daughter several pages back, I would suggest putting her education first. If she wants to run, believe me, she will find a way to do it - hopefully in a way that permits expression in other aspects of her life.
By the way, I was not close to my coach and never connected with him, but he was a good guy. He was a track coach - that's all. And the administration of the school, as well as my department head who pushed me into an elite academic program, were fantastic. They were a far greater influence on me than my coach. So while I really did not enjoy my college athletic experience all that much, it was more because it was not a match with my interests more than anything else.
I vowed when I had a family my own kids would never worry about debt or an education. They are great students at the nation's very best colleges. And they are productive, happy and developing. My wife and I made it clear early on that athletics was for fun. (I met my wife in college - a serious student with a calm perspective on life who hails from a stable family and who was not at all an athlete. Hopefully, this young woman can adopt the same kind of perspective as she moves on - although an eating disorder may be so life altering to make that very challenging.
And I find this Title IX stuff silly. Look, most intelligent men are not troglodytes - they support the concept behind Title IX - indeed I do. And I don't support the misogynist drivel about women not being athletes - they are different than men - but can express tremendous athletic talent. But Title IX should be applied reasonably, and not mechanically and in a way that capriciously deprives men of opportunity. Look, football is so obscene from an academic and economic perspective - but good luck changing it. Let's recognize football for what it is - and set it aside and implement parity in terms of athletic support without football in play. And use a little common sense - take - for example, JMU - a school with a 60/40 ratio where the women would happily like more men to attend - axed the men's track and cross country programs - even less men will now attend - what progress is that?