EUGENE, Ore. - As ambassadors for their program, University of Oregon football players are becoming highly accustomed to having their lives documented. These athletes are having their personal lives scrutinized by the media.
“The expectation are extremely high, and there’s no room for error,” Oregon Duck running back Kenjon Barner said. “When you mess up, your face is all over the newspaper.”
A number of student-athletes have been in trouble with police in the past few years, which has caught a lot of media attention.
Athletic director Rob Mullens said, “Being 17 - 18 and under a microscope, to where everything you do is chronicled, is a lot of pressure.”
Barner agreed, saying that the attention and media reports make it impossible for players to be kids.
Barner finds that the actions of these athletes are often blown out of proportion, and that the media seldom focuses on the merits of the football team.
“It’s rare that you hear about us, as a football team, being out in the community, doing things with kids, but as soon as we do something bad it’s all over the news.”
Although the attention is stressful at times, Barner said the fans treat him, and his teammates, well.
“Whenever I’m seen out in public (the fans) speak and give hugs, some give kisses, I sign autographs and it’s just a good relationship,” Barner said. “I’m glad people recognize me and know who I am. It could have been the complete opposite, to where no one knew who I was or knew my name. So it feels good to be known, but at the same time it can be awkward at times.”
Story from the University of Oregon Sports Media Workshop