There are competing loyalties between academic primacy and athletics in schools engaged in athletics which is characterized by high coach salaries, stadium wars, and cutthroat competition for academically qualified athletes (Gayles. & Hu, 2009). The demand for academically qualified athletes, have been far much higher than the supply especially in the suburb regions. As such, schools have been forced to hire and recruit athletes who are not academically qualified and/or do not have he desire to obtain legitimate education. This has easily led to the corruption of academic standards with regrettable consequences. College athletics include the playing of baseball, football, basketball, and soft ball among others.
Recent studies have revealed that the academic performance do not match performance at the field, an athlete may perform extremely well in the field but most fail to reflect the same in their class work (Horton, 2009). It is proven that at least 90% of Minnesota’s Hibbing community college football players enroll in at least one remedial class and most are not at par with other student undertaking the same courses (Clow, 2000). There lurks a potential loss of sport revenues and publicity if institutions of higher learning cannot justify the heavy investments in facilities and staff that provide alternative education programs for their athletes who continue to record low graduation rates (Pietryk, 2008). Where as much debate has existed concerning whether college athletes should be exempted from taking classes or not, there is much evidence that support the interrelationship between college athletics and academics; such evidence support the fact that college athletes should not be exempted from taking classes at the expense of career in athletics because success in both athletics and academics enhances an individual’s ability to win in life (Clow, 2000).
The national collegiate athletic association (NCAA) stated that as a regulatory measure, a team’s success will be measured by the performance of the student athletes both in class and in the field. The academic reform policy for the major division I schools will hold university and college coaches accountable for their players’ academic progress for lack thereof by applying the academic progress rate (APR) package (Gayles. & Hu, 2009). The APR uses points system in which a player earns two points for staying in school and maintaining good grades that puts the athlete on track for graduation. If a player leaves school early or falls below the permissible GPA level, the team loses one point. The team loses two points for players who fail to achieve both requirements i.e. leaves school early and also falls below the required grade point averages (GPA) level. Repeat offenders are denied their post season eligibility (NCAA, 2011). The policy also encourages prizing athletes based on not just talent, but also classroom performance. Therefore it is very important for a team’s athletes to take classes so as to enable the overall team to earn marks, qualify, and meet NCAA’s requirement.
Often most athletes are not prepared for anything, but a professional career in athletics (Chu, Segrave & Becker, 1985). The tragedy is that only two to three percent of the athletes will truly develop a career in sports. This is not to say that professional sports is wrong to pursue, but student athletes need to diversify their academic backgrounds to give them a leeway into other avenues when they eventually discover that sports do not work out as they had preempted. This is contributed in part by the rigid class programs that are not customized specifically for the student athletes. In Chu, Segrave & Becker’s view, (1985) most classes are designed to help bring up and holistic person and on very rare occasions would one find a class specifically focusing on athletics and how one can qualify on it. With such diversity of classes and the uncertainties that surrounds athletics career, it would only be prudent if college athletes were not exempted from taking class.
On a regular day, an athlete student will wake up earlier than the other students to go jogging and doing the early morning exercises and thereafter partake of classes each of which lasts between fifteen to eighteen hours (NCAA, 2011). The athlete student is then expected to attend the evening practice sessions and complete class assignment. On a playing season, the student will be expected to cover up for what was taught during the period when he/she was away and out of college or campus (Benjamin, Cauthen & Donnelly, 2009). This would require that the student makes tight schedules and a clear plan on how to attain academic and athletic goals. It would entail proper time management, a balanced financial and social life as well as closeness to the course mates, college educators, and college administrators (Pietryk, 2008). Although such busy schedule for athletes have been cited to oppose the need for college athletes take classes, there is no ground that justify that taking classes can impact negatively in the life of an athlete. In fact NCAA in it perspective argues that excelling in athletics is only concerned with winning a specific competition (NCAA, 2011). However, an athlete is said to have won in life if she/he excels in both academics and athletics. Consequently, it would be a big blow to the society if its athletes were exempted from taking classes.
The NACC decision to make academic qualifications (sixteen core courses for the division 1 schools and fourteen core courses for the division 2 schools) a prerequisite in joining the athletic schools and colleges has resulted in students opting for a rather easy path to attain their academic goals. According to NCAA (2011) some have argued that they do degree courses or join diploma programs to remain in sport and not necessarily to attain academic standards. This has resulted in clustering in courses where athletes feel they can cope with the time demands of the courses they undertake. It has also resulted in schools recruiting freshmen considered eligible to play, but who in later years find it hard to remain in the game (Benjamin, Cauthen & Donnelly, 2009). It would be far much better for students to pursue college courses that better prepare them for a satisfying career rather than undertaking a course for the ease that the athlete considers of it. Mentorship should be introduced for the athlete students to help them choose what they would love to do not what time permits them to do. In another perspective, it is important for student athlete to realize that students with high GPAs and better test scores have more opportunities than those with lower grades and lesser performance levels (NCAA, 2011). Such opportunities can exist both within athletics sports, government, or corporate world. However, one aspect that would make an athlete competitive for any opportunity within the stated avenues is academics. With such understanding, it offers an insight that college athletes should also be encouraged to take their classes serious besides their career in athletics.
NCAA is presently focusing on certain individual attributes that can only be attained by college athletes if they are bred in such context right from high school through college. Such attributes include respect, caring, integrity, courtesy, honesty, and responsibility (Benjamin, Cauthen & Donnelly, 2009). Interestingly acquiring the above attributes have proved to be a challenge to those who were not bred in responsible and positive environment such as athletes who had the freedom or were generally exempted from taking classes. Consequently for college instructors and administrators to help college athletes as far as NCAA’s values are concerned, it would be very important not to exempt college students from taking classes for the purpose of breeding them into responsible persons, and for the creating equality in the value of different careers (Benjamin, Cauthen & Donnelly, 2009).
There has been much pressure on college athletes to perform in class and in the field which illustrates the importance of increased monitoring strategies (NCAA, 2011). Nevertheless, the knowledge of the busiest days of the week and the rigorous academic year for students is useful in planning for student assistance. This is an aspect that can not be used to give room for college students to miss classes (Horton, 2009). For one, college athletes are usually the most active and therefore better placed to show high concentration in class as opposed to other students per see. What athlete students and their instructors should strive for is recognition of the areas of potential struggle so as to facilitating academic services for student athletes. It is also important for an athlete to understand that athletic practice often does not take place 24/7 (Clow, 2000). It would be important for an athlete to schedule his/her time appropriate so as to ensure that no activity runs into the other for effective performance in class and athletics.
Most colleges expect their students to be active in sports irrespective of whether they are taking it as a career or not (Quaye, 2009). This is because of the understanding that sports promote acquisition and development of certain skills which are important in life. Such skills include setting of goals, motivation, teamwork, and dedication. At the same time, such expectation usually does not interfere with the goal of most educational institutions (Clow, 2000). This implies that students have to excel both at sports and academics without compromising on either. Based on such view, it would be bias to exempt college athletes from taking classes while stressing the same course for non-athlete students. Quaye (2009) supposes that some students have used athletics as leeway to miss classes which in they believe are hard. These evidences make exemption of college athlete from taking class a means of encouraging lawlessness on a particular group of students while making life so hard fro the others.
College athletes should not be exempted from taking classes since such decision gives room for the students to be lazy, disorganized and generally unsuccessful in their lives. Various students can only follow through on what was done in class in their absence if they know that every bit of class work goes into their overall grade (Gayles. & Hu, 2009). However, in the cases where there is freedom for college athletes to take classes at their wish, it would be very hard for a student who was out for athletics competition to follow up on what was done in class in their absence simply because they have the freedom to take such classes or not. In most cases such freedom makes college athletes to loose communication with their instructors, careless, and disorganized (Quaye, 2009). Moreover, a student who is left at liberty to take classes at might find it so hard to cope with instructors who value classes and in the long-run develop deviant behaviors.
The other aspect that needs to be considered before exempting college athletes from taking classes is the essence of them being called “college athletes”. “A College Athlete” implies an athlete in an educational institution (Clow, 2000). In other words, it can be cited that college athletes are first and foremost students before they can talk of their athletic career. With such understanding, athletics come second in the life of college students when it comes to academic matters irrespective of whether they got admitted in such institutions via athletics (Pietryk, 2008). Therefore it should be the mandate of the educational administrators and instructors to ensure that they help college athletes to acquire education.
Generally most colleges offer their athletes scholarship. Such scholarships are not enticed on propagating exemption, but on helping college-athletes to nature their academic life even as they excel in their athletics career. In fact it is beneficial to an athlete to have an opportunity to pursue academic career in a college. This is based on the fact that most colleges offering academic scholarship for college athletes are reputable and out standing. Therefore exempting such students from taking classes would be tantamount to deviating from the mission of offering the student an educational scholarship.
In conclusion, sport is an important part of life since it contributes to the overall fulfillment in an individual’s life. Some of the critical aspects that those involved in sports are bound to gain in their life endeavors are goal-setting, motivation, teamwork, and dedication. However, following the present rules that have been set by the NCAA and the belief that college non-athletes have also displayed the above life skills, it is not justifiable to exempt college students from taking classes. This is particularly founded on the concern that all college students are in one way or the other involved in sports irrespective of whether they are athletes by career or not. Moreover, non-athlete students have proved that they can actively be involved in sports for physical exercise and still excel in academics. With such understanding, college athletes need to focus on athletics as a career so as to win competition, and at the same time take classes so as to coat their career for success in life.