Its up to athletes to get smart
- Dwight Jaynes
- Portland Tribune - Sports
Let's say you've sent your child off to college. The child was there for a year or two, then quit. The kid may have dropped out to do something else, flunked out or simply decided that college wasn't the right thing at the time. It's a reality not many want to admit: that college simply isn't for everyone.
But you don't blame the school, do you? Or the system? Or an academic adviser, a few professors or the school president? You may want to take some blame yourself (unfairly, probably) that you didn't make higher education more of a priority in your child's life. But most likely, you will put the blame where it belongs Ñ on your child. I mean, at some point people have to bear the responsibility for their own decisions, right?
Unless, of course, they are part of big-time college sports. Then you can blame the coach. You can send the kid off to college and expect not only a free education but also a ready-made diploma.
That's the way it seems to me, anyway. ESPN is the latest to jump on that crowded bandwagon with a special tonight on its acclaimed 'Inside the Lines' series called 'The Graduation Crisis in College Basketball.' This is fueled by the news that a lot of college basketball players aren't walking away with degrees.
Perhaps you also wring your hands over the graduation rates, worrying that players are being used by a coach or a school and then are cast aside before they can get a diploma.
I'm sorry, but I just don't buy it.
Athletes in big-time schools get more tutoring and more attention than your nonathlete student ever got. They usually get preregistration for classes, which ensures that they get athlete-friendly professors, or simply instructors who are known all over campus for being 'easy.' And they get it for free.
So now I'm going to blame some coach for those kids not sticking it out and getting the diploma? I've never understood that, and until I see a college coach get a bonus for signing students with 4.0 grade point averages to letters of intent, I'm not going to care. You see, the coaches get fired when they don't win. They should get fired when they don't win. That must be their real concern.
Coaches need to generate wins, which generate revenue. Athletes are brought in to play ball and are afforded an opportunity, as a trade-off, for a free education. Trust me, they're mature enough that, if they get the chance, they'll leave after their freshman year to play in the pros.
So that makes them mature enough to have the educational responsibilities dumped squarely in their lap. If they don't come home four or five years later with that sheepskin, so what? It's nobody's fault but their own.