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What Role Do College Athletics Play in the Olympics?

Posted on October 12 2018

During the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, the U.S. team was comprised of many college athletes. For many athletes, the dream to compete in the Olympics is what drives them to start training at a young age, while others get that desire a few years prior to attending the Olympics as an athlete. College athletes are no different. In fact, with 244 athletes on the team, approximately one-third of them claimed that college athletics played a part in their journey to becoming an Olympic athlete.

In 2018, 36 percent of athletes on the Olympic team had previously competed at the college level for 48 different institutions, across all three NCAA divisions. Ice hockey is the number one sport when it comes to student-athlete participation, with a whopping 94 percent participation across both men’s and women’s teams. The second leading team is the U.S. bobsled teams with 87 percent having previously competed on the collegiate level. Rounding out the top three is the cross-country skiing team, with 75 percent being student-athletes.

All the college athletes that competed in the Olympics came from different universities across the country. Next time you’re watching the Winter Games, keep your eyes peeled for a Minnesota tie. In 2018, The University of Minnesota had the most student-athletes, who competed with a total of nine representing the U.S. In a close second, Dartmouth College had eight student-athletes compete. Boston College had six athletes competing, while Alaska Pacific University and the University of Vermont were both represented with five athletes. Following closely behind, the University of Wisconsin and Boston University had four athletes in the Winter Games. In addition, there were 11 other institutions that had two or three athletes compete for the United States.

For a vast majority of student-athletes who make it to the Olympics, their time in college sports helped to propel them to reach and achieve their dreams of competing in the Olympics. Whether they wear a Dartmouth or University of Minnesota tie during college games, student-athletes are training together to bring home Olympic Medals for their country, Team USA.

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