dstrinity2 months ago
As a mother of a young athlete who is also an intellectual, this topic is discussed in my household a lot. Having taught in urban and suburban elementary schools, this problem stems from childhood. I find that students who may need additional resources to succeed academically but who are athletically gifted are given a pass in the classroom. They experience success on the field, court or track and therein lies the source of their self-esteem and self-worth. No one, including parents, conveys the importance of addressing the deficiencies that appear academically. The focus is on "passing"- school, standardized tests, and graduating (even if barely). You hear them talk of having the minimum to be a college athlete. They echo, "I have the scores to play". Well what about the scores to graduate, to attend graduate school, make the dean's list and excel in postsecondary environment? Unfortunately, the answers are never provided for these students who by the way are still children when they walk onto these campuses and are hailed for their athletic prowess. My experience, research and focus of my passion tells me that parents are too hands off too early. Instead of just relying on the athletes to advocate for themselves, this group (even more than the honor students) need the parents to step in and demand better also.
So when we discuss whether my child would take an academic or athletic scholarship if so blessed, my answer is always- the academic. I don't ever want him to fall into the trap of believing that his jump shot and ability to have "court vision" outweighs his intellect and potential to be a computer engineer or the like. Now, if once he becomes a reasoning adult and is put in the position to play professional sports or pursue another career then at that point, I believe his experience, reasoning and ability to discern for himself will lead him down the right path. I will never turn him over to an athletic director or coach who makes 7 figures and whose job it is to bring in millions of dollars for the institution. I'm pretty sure their allegiance won't be to my child.