Thursday, February 28, 2013

Note To All Student-Athletes: The Education Piece Is Here To Stay!

We've all heard stories of high school and college athletes  having their schoolwork and exams taken for them by other students. Cheating in and out of the classroom in order to obtain decent grades has been going on as long as,well,probably as long as schools have existed. Therefore,cheating in the classroom in order to obtain a high enough grade to remain academically eligible to participate in collegiate and high school sports has probably been a part of amatuer athletics since the first pitch was thrown,the first basketball was thrown up in the air,and shortly after the first track meet took place.
 As long as there are rules pertaining to performance in the classroom,there will be unlimited attempts to shake,fake and undermind such rules.Whether it's athletes copying off others' papers,sharing notes with classmates during exams, or lifting others words off the internet,beating the system in order to get on and stay on the field is at an all-time high.Many teachers who administer failing grades to student-athletes are sometimes asked "nicely" to change the grades to favor the student-athlete.
What I must mention is while the popularity of cheating is ever on the uprise,the vast majority of student-athletes in colleges,universities,and high schools across the country resist cheating in it's entirety and put in an honest day in the classroom and at home while acheiving the solid education needed to be successful in life.
Then,there are others who while refraining from doing anything unethical,still fall short in the classroom and are barred from playing sports,at least temporarily for their schools.
They fail for various reasons including lack of support at the school and/or at home,undiagnosed medical problems, as well as,lack of sleep,nutrition and focus. Others balance sports and schoolwork while working part- time to help support there families.
Mediocraty in the classroom is the result of  more issues than I can write about.
Sometimes it's tough enough just to be successful in the classroom. To be a successful student-athlete is a whole "nother thang". Add the pressure coaches,athletic directors,and institutions face in this "win at all cost' world we live in,and throw in the additional push from sometimes overzealous and just plain unrealistic parents and the result is mindblowing if you really think about it.
Priorities are way out of whack and teachers and academic advisors who take a strong,firm stand as far as enforcing minimum academic requirements are far too often seen as villains. Yup,not only by students & parents,but by coaches and alumni,although far too many won't admit it (coaches & alumni that is).
So you may ask yourself,"why is this writer telling me stuff I already know,and where is he going with it all?" Well,from my position as a parent of student-athletes and lover of not only high school and collegiate sports but the human beings who participate in them,I feel compelled to share my views! From a parent perspective I want my children to excel in the classroom while being competitive on the field. There is no doubt in any of my children's young minds where  their parents stand as far as education is concerned.It is first and foremost.It will always be the main reason for showing up at school (as simplistic as that may sound,lol).
Then,as a fan, a fan...... you just don't know. I get very disapointed when I find out that far too many "leaders" of teams aren't on the field or on the court because of academic reasons. Ok,perhaps freshman & even sophomores require more time to get adjusted to the rigors of high school or college life. But there are far too many,in my opinion, junior and senior captains of teams on the bench or at home because they failed to hold up their end of the deal as far as schoolwork goes. I'll add that it's in no way,in all cases the student's fault. If their coaches who are often teachers themselves, put more emphasis and enthusiasm into helping the overall management of the student-athlete's school experience,more kids can be saved before it's too late.Really,these adults while screaming such encouragement as,"don't cheat me on them suicides,don't cheat the game,don't quit on your team,run out that grounder,stick to your blocks and play to the whistle,etc. should take the same approach to dealing with his/her entire squad's academic well being.It's hard enough to win more games than you lose. It's equally as challenging to pass more subjects than you fail.When will we as a society wake up and ask ourselves,why is that same 17,18 ,19 year old that we cheered for not too long ago at that game not even enrolled in school right now? Just think about it; He or she was a "hero" what seemed like a minute ago,and now with no school on deck is subject to all that' s negative out there.
There is no particular sport that sticks out in my mind as havng the bigest problem keeping athletes eligible, but certainly there are a few schools locally who as an instituition have failed our youth much more often than others.
I guess as long as there are students there will be student-athletes and as long as there's student-athletes,there will be student-athletes that find the academic piece to be too overwhelming to conquer.What's worse is that it's not just the kids that are flunking.........