#Sports vs. #Education (#Students) : A False Choice

#Sports vs. #Education (#Students) : A False Choice

The stereo type of a dumb-jock might have some truth to it. A recent study by the NCAA in 2010 discovered that most division I athletes spend more time on athletics than on their academic work. Although this study focused on colleges, the reality is that it may be true for high school as well. The fact that most athletes spend more time participating in sporting activities rather than focusing on their education may ultimately have a negative impact on their career.

Although most student athletes never become professionals, they spend excessive amounts of time playing sports neglecting their education. According to Mary Tedrow, a high school English teacher “Most high school athletes never make it to professional sports, yet year after year high schools around the country spend a disproportional amount of money on varsity sports while neglecting academics.” Some educators believe that sports are emphasized more than test scores by the school and even the media (Tedrow). This educational neglect has an impact on a student’s college career as well. If college athletes were held up to academic standards and barred from competing in NCAA tournaments, according to secretary of education Arne Duncan, “…Three woman’s teams and ten men’s teams, including traditional powers Syracuse and Purdue would not be in the tournaments.” Academics have become almost secondary to athletic programs for some college students.

Athletes need to plan ahead for the possibility that they will not have a future in professional sports. Approximately 5.8% of high school athletes move on and play collegiate sports. Of that 5.8%, only a mere 3.1% of college athletes go and play professional sports. (collegesportsscholarships.com) According to Eddie Griffin a freelance writer for Mississippi, “ Parents, teachers, coaches, and especially student athletes themselves need to understand that ‘winning at all costs’ diminishes lives. Receiving an education should be the top priority.” Education is important to be successful in life. Athletes who get breaks and privileges for playing sports in colleges, maybe at an intellectual disadvantage after college. Injuries, budget cuts, and legal troubles can often put an end to athletic careers. In addition, Griffin states, “every year, numerous talented players miss out on the chance to play top-level football because of the failure to meet academic requirements.” There many reason academics need to be an athlete’s priority in college.

Despite the research which shows the need to stress academics over athletics, there are some who believe that a sport is their ticket to success. There are many reasons why students find sports more important than school. The most enticing draw of professional sports is the money that can be earned. Duncan states, “Money talks, so right now there is an absolute perverse incentive. Folks follow the money, and the money says, ‘we don’t care about academic outcomes’.” It’s a difficult argument to contradict when the average family physician makes less than $200,000 a year (ehow.com) and the league minimum for Major League Baseball is $300,000 (mlb.com). Doctors spend countless years in school, studying and learning how to be a doctor while in some scenarios; teenagers are making over $100,000 dollars a year more than them because they are good at playing a sport.

There are many possible solutions to balance academics with athletics. One possible solution may be to screen perspective student athletes before accepting them into colleges. This screening process may help determine whether or not a student should be eligible to enter a post secondary institution. One example of this type of program is referred to as Facilitating Learning and Achieving Graduation (FLAG) program. It was offered to Academic Services Administrations of all schools governed by the NCAA on February 24th 2011 (Trzaskowski). It consists of a software program with a series of questions designed to evaluate early signs of problems in athletes. It provides solutions and resources to address any issues that may arise whether it involves academics, psychological, or socio-economical problems. Study halls, tutoring, study skills education and academic excellence recognition are other means to help support student athletes. This type of screening may alleviate any academic issues before they occur.

Ultimately, a student athlete’s education is a crucial part of their college experience. While sports may be a major focus for some, the academic component is vital. Academics success leads to more career opportunities and acts as a fall back plan for failed professional athletes. Since the research shows that the number of college athletes who make it to into professional sports is small, it is important that sports are not favored over academics.


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