Countable athletically related activities or “CARA” are strictly-defined activities that count toward the limited number of hours a student-athlete can participate in their sport in a day or week. The NCAA sets forth these limitations to protect student-athlete well-being, providing a balance between sports and academics.
What are countable athletically related activities exactly?
Countable athletically related activities are mandatory, coach-supervised sport-related activities in which student-athletes participate for up to 20 hours a week. These activities include competition, training, skill instruction, individual workouts, staff-supervised use of athletic facilities, and mandatory participation in camps or clinics.
This article answers exactly what countable athletically related activities are and talks about what is not CARA.
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What are countable athletically related activities?
College sports and their athletes are permitted specific hours for training, competition, or other sport-related activities each week. Activities that count toward those hours are considered “CARA,” or countable athletically related activities.
What is CARA, and what are some examples of countable athletically related activities?
Countable athletically related activities or CARA are required, mandatory, and coach or staff-supervised sport-related activities in which a student-athlete participates at any point during the regular season, postseason, or official out-of-season training, including, for example, the spring off-season for fall sports.
Student-athletes are permitted 15 hours of countable athletically related activities a week during their regular season, except those who compete in golf, rowing, and tennis, which are allowed 20 hours. In the postseason or during playoffs, the weekly hourly limitation is bumped up to 20 hours for all athletes.
They are allowed four hours a day, maximum, for CARA.
Defining related activities as CARA is a core element of the rules put forth by the NCAA. To enforce CARA, we must understand precisely what is considered a countable athletically related activity.
The primary objective of CARA is to limit the number of hours student-athletes spend on sport-related activities in a given day or week. Doing this is a safeguard for student-athletes across all college sports.
The NCAA CARA rules are designed to protect student-athletes, providing mandatory time away from their sports to focus on other priorities, like school and academics or social life and other extracurriculars.
Without CARA and its hourly limitations, student-athletes could potentially be overworked by their coaching staff with less time for academics.
Specific CARA examples in college athletics
Now that we understand what CARA is and why it’s important, let’s take a look at what counts as a countable athletically related activity.
Specific CARA examples in college sports include the following. The table also includes what does not count as CARA, like study hall sessions and media days.
|Countable athletically related activities (CARA)
|Not countable (Not CARA)
|Study hall or tutoring sessions
|Fundraisers; community service or engagement
|Voluntary strength and conditioning programs
|Coach or staff-supervised use of athletic facilities
|Award ceremonies; team banquets
|Mandatory participation in camps and clinics
|Athletic treatment from an athletic trainer
What does NOT count as a countable athletically related activity?
Let’s dig deeper into what does not count as CARA and determine what outlying activities are not countable. What are some things that players can participate in during the season or off-season that don’t factor into their total hourly limitations?
Activities not counted as CARA include study hall or tutoring sessions, fundraisers, community service or engagement, voluntary activities such as strength and conditioning, compliance meetings, award ceremonies or team banquets, athletic treatment, medical examinations, media day, and traveling.
These activities do not count toward a student-athlete’s daily and weekly hourly limitations. Student-athletes can participate in any of these activities as much as they want or need to at any point, in or out of season.
Conversely, countable activities such as competition, skill instruction, individual workouts, or other mandatory, required, and sport-related activities count as CARA.
One of the biggest misconceptions about NCAA CARA rules is that traveling does not count as CARA. Hours spent traveling do not count toward a student-athlete’s daily and weekly hourly limitations.
Student-athletes spend anywhere from 1-8 hours traveling a week, depending on their sport, how many competitions they have, and where those competitions are.
Sports like college soccer, for example, can have two away games in a week during the regular season, with each game two hours away. That’s two 4-hour round trips in one week for eight hours of traveling.
Those eight hours do not count toward the 20-hour limit NCAA placed on student-athletes’ participation in their sport.