Students: Not Everything Needs to be Fun

August 10, 2015 by JordanG

By Jeremy Hawkins, PhD, ATC, ATP Director, Colorado Mesa University
Earlier this summer I came across a blog post by a blogger named Brooke Romney wherein she discusses a problem she believes her children have – they think the purpose of life is to have fun.  Ms. Romney elaborated, sharing how in her children’s prayers time is spent in gratitude for the fun day they had and then they pray that they will have a fun day the next day “and the day after that.”  She discusses that these “fun-fed children” are self-created, since when we drop them off places we tell them to “Have fun!” and when they come back we ask they if they had fun, and if they didn’t we try to figure out why. Further, the world we live in is “full of cheap thrills and expensive entertainment.” Ms. Romney goes so far as to referring to fun as a drug.
I initially read Ms. Romney’s blog post right after I received all of the senior exit interview results for my graduating seniors, so program improvement was on my mind.  This comment in particular from one of the graduates hit home with regards to how we can improve:
“The sophomores often sat around on the tables, did not wear appropriate clothing, and complained about hours in front of athletes. I felt that this was very unprofessional, but whenever I mentioned anything to them, they often rolled their eyes and gave me excuses. The professionalism should be improved.”
Now, I am not here to discuss how the program I administer needs to be improved, but I did wonder if the sophomore students that are being spoken about were at their clinical assignments to have fun. After all, bored people sit around on tables and complain about hours, not those who are loving what they are doing. Another comment to illustrate this might be helpful. This came under the question about suggestions for future students:
“Athletic training has certain responsibilities like cleaning, showing up to rotations, long hours or providing care for athletes that need to be accomplished. This is not high school anymore; be responsible and accomplish the necessary tasks with a good attitude and willingness. Too often people try to pass the responsibility on to someone else. Have a sense of duty and accomplish what needs to be done. This may go unnoticed, but it will aid in making you a better person.”
I am sure I am not the first to confess that cleaning isn’t always at the top of my fun list and that there have been several long practices where I have admittedly longed to be elsewhere. And, I think that is okay and needs to be okay for you as athletic training students. The key is still showing up and doing your best. In my mind there is a distinct difference between fun and enjoyment. Is my day always fun? No. Commonly I am asked to do things that I may not choose to do on my own, but are part of my learning and growth as a professional. Do I really enjoy what I do day in and day out? I can honestly say yes, I do. 
Another school year is upon us. As you approach it, I encourage you to hold yourself accountable for what you accomplish, not whether or not it was fun. Everything we do can be fun if we want it to be, but don’t let that be your quest.  Seek to grow and develop as an athletic trainer.  Perhaps asking yourself one of these questions as you finish your athletic training day may help:

  • Did you learn something?
  • Did you feel productive?
  • Did you work hard?
  • Did you try your best?
  • Were you a good clinician?
  • Did you try something new?
  • Did you push yourself?
  • Did you make someone's day better?
  • Did you add value?
  • Did you create something?
  • Did you grow?
  • Did you discover something?
  • Did you change the world today, even in a small way?

To quote Ms. Romney, “When you can answer yes to any of those questions, that's when life gets really fun.”

Posted by NATA Communications Manager Jordan Grantham on behalf of blog author Jeremy Hawkins. Interested in contributing to the NATA Now blog? Email