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The Entitled Athlete

Emulating professional athletes is not always a good idea.

Richard Pound

April 21, 2009

The Entitled Athlete

It's a fact of life that student-athletes often receive the benefit of the doubt or special treatment because of their special talents. However, these so-called “benefits” do not necessarily help the student-athlete. 

For example, colleges and universities use “special admits” to remain competitive. So if a player meets the NCAA's minimum academic standards, she could gain admission into a school that would not otherwise have accepted her application.  Unfortunately, some of the best-known collegiate athletic programs have accepted a disproportionate number of student-athletes for their special talent, even if they don't meet meet the school's academic standards.  

These “special admits” are mainly reserved for the talented athlete and include, but are not limited to, a less-challenging curriculum, lenient grading, special study hours and tutoring, independent projects, and/or preferential housing and course selection. The reality is that many of these athletes will graduate from their institution with a meaningless diploma and few prospects for the future outside of athletics. 

Being an entitled athlete can also work as a double-edged sword for the athlete who falls out of favor or is unable to play at the top level.  

Instead of becoming the entitled student-athlete, I encourage my student-athletes to emulate the individuals who give back to their communities and who have not been blessed with God-given abilities. The old saying holds true that we meet the same people on the way down the ladder of success as we did on the way up. How do you want to be remembered -- as a person, first and an athlete, second? 

I refer regularly to a poem written by from Rudyard Kipling when I’m working with my student-athletes; I feel this poem carries a significant importance in maintaining their balance. 

Now this is the Law of the Jungle - as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back -
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

 “Control the process; don’t let the process control you!”

Richard Pound is a consultant and author of Packaging Academics with Athletics

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