What is redshirting?
Redshirting is the practice of holding a student’s place on a college sports team so that she will be able to return to the team after a set period of time. This practice, normally used for medical leave, allows the student athlete to keep her spot on the team, along with any sports-related scholarships, until it is feasible for her to return.
Although pregnancy is neither an illness nor an injury, it does incapacitate a student athlete for a period of time, and redshirting is one way to ensure the health and safety of both mother and baby — and still be a team player.
So what protections are in place for pregnant athletes?
- Currently, the NCAA has a handbook policy for all sport teams:
- The athletics department will help the pregnant or parenting student athlete plan for her continued academic progress, in accord with the university’s educational mission.
- The athletics department will help the student athlete return to her sport after the pregnancy and during parenting, if the student athlete so desires.
- The athletics department will assist the student athlete to access the pregnancy and parenting support resources that are available to all college students.
- For those student athletes in athletic programs under the NAIA, the exemption can be found here.
- Title IX
- This federal law is a part of the Education Amendments of 1972.
- It prohibits sex discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
Despite both of these protocols in place, it still gives women limited options and support throughout pregnancy.
What else should you know?
First off, know that you are supported and you have options available:
- Talk to your adviser to help manage your schedule and workload.
- It may be difficult discussing this matter with the coach so think about bringing someone else with you, whether it be a trusted friend, adviser, or parent.
- Although there are policies in place, some may choose not to follow it. In this case, it would be best to talk to the head of athletics and work from there.
By Katharine Burgess