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A Real Sports Education for Athletes

Most people wouldn't do well if studying a subject they were disinterested in.

Elizabeth Hoyt

November 27, 2012

A Real Sports Education for Athletes
College athletes are, more often than not, respected as athletes but disregarded as students. Perhaps, if they could study sports, that wouldn't be the case. When a high school student is recruited for a college sports team, they are asked to declare an academic major. This would be asked of any student attending the school. The slight difference, however, in the case of the athletes is that their interest has already been made quite apparent: they are attending to play sports. They want to focus on sports. They are athletes. There’s nothing wrong with that. So, why do schools insist on pretending that’s on the case? Undoubtedly, there will be arguments. They can’t major in sports–not everyone can be a pro-sports player. True. That being acknowledged, students major in drama that must come to the realization that not everyone can become a famous actor or actress. Others study music without becoming world-renowned musicians. Furthermore, most science majors don’t cure major diseases and the majority of writers don’t become best-selling novelists. Yet, they still choose professions they love and feel a calling towards. Better yet, some do find great success. As a result of that, why not let them major in what they truly love?

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Otherwise, we time and again find college athletes in unfortunate situations of scandal, athletic departments involved in corruption and other academic departments and students lacking respect for the aforementioned. Case and point: in a recent investigation by Brad Wolverton of The Chronicle of Higher Education, it was found that certain colleges host swift, effortless academic programs available to athletes in danger of losing eligibility to play for their college teams. What’s worse is that this secret is known by the majority of university team players and athletics department. In fact, it’s common knowledge.

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It’s not to say these students aren't bright. On the contrary, they often excel in coursework related to athletics. It’s likely that they’re just not motivated because they’re not passionate about whatever major they were thwarted into declaring in order to attend the college they wanted to play for. Sure, they may have declared sports medicine or kinesiology, but those majors are vastly different from majoring in, say, “general sports,” or a specific sport like “basketball” or “football.” In all sincerity, allowing these athletes to pursue what they really love would benefit their grades and end the farce that these students are actually benefiting from a “proper” education. Based on the investigation referenced above, there’s nothing “proper” about classes that range from ten days to 16 weeks, where textbooks are considered unnecessary and exams are allowed to be retaken.

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By allowing the sham that athletes are actually learning from these courses to continue, the students learn nothing but an easier way to bypass the system. If they can’t pass classes at the school they’re attending, they take easier, shorter classes. But it doesn't end there. Schools are not only short handing athletes in allowing this to occur, they are short handing anyone who graduates from the school as well. Looking at the situation from the outside, it seems as though allowing it to continue fails on both ends of the spectrum, athletes and academics, because it sends the message that these students aren't capable of more which simply isn't true. The bottom line that must be remembered is that a school should never abandon its student or let a student graduate without the proper knowledge to be prepared to enter the career field of his or her study. While some of the athletes may move on to professional athletic careers, the others that do not make it do not simply fade away. Those students, the same students who skirted by the system, and graduated with degrees they likely know–or care –little about are out in the world and are still graduates of the same schools that other individuals attended as well. This misrepresents hard-working student bodies, the faculty that taught them well and perpetuates the wrongful stereotype that athletes are stupid. Maybe a real sports education for college athletes is the answer. After all, you likely wouldn't want to dive into a subject that someone else arbitrarily chose for your studies, would you?
Do you agree or disagree that a sports major would help college athletes? We'd love to hear your thoughts!

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