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Athletic Scores

Today, I write about a local issue that is a national problem; athletes doing poorly in school. I may not win a popularity contest but we must say it for what it is. When you, as an alumnus, find yourself cringing when an athlete from your school is interviewed something is wrong. Money does not make the person. The athletes who have lost all of the money they made during their careers are a direct result of poor education coupled with a cultivated mental attitude of poverty in childhood.

A local college in Mississippi, JSU, has had its football program placed on academic suspension. The athletes were unable after a year’s grace to pull up the team average. Most of the people on the FB community are supportive of athletes being able to maintain passing GPAs. However there are some people seeking a way to tie the suspension to racism. If the suspension is an act of racism, I love it. My children have claimed over the years that I am an abusive parent for not allowing them to run the streets, having them to study dictionary words in the summer, and for having them write papers in the summer. My stance was not even up for debate for I knew what was at stake. I also knew that a child who has his ( I only have boys) own private room, a wallet and bank account with money, the latest in technology, the opportunity to express his viewpoints and opportunities to travel was not an abused child. Just as my children were not abused the athletes at JSU have not been mentally stymied to the point they are unable to learn.

They are able to learn and to carry out various plays they have learned on the football field. I challenge anyone who has not played football to read a playbook with the understanding required to execute the plays on a championship level (JSU is a SWAC champion). I refuse to demand the talented professors allow athletes a pass in their classrooms. I know they may come under pressure to give into the demands of the administration but I hope they take a stand. When they keep to their standards, JSU produces high caliber graduates. Those graduates are able to compete successfully with graduates of Ivy League schools. I have seen the results of professors going with the flow and not challenging the students.

I remember when there was a call to lower the bar on standardized testing. As a child I remember parents in my community demanding my local school district lower its standards. When lower standards are set and met, no one receives any real benefit. The parents, teachers, and adults involved in the lowered expectation programming of the children see the fallacy of their work after it is too late to reverse the affects. The children become confused adults who have a hard time understanding why their degrees mean little to the hiring manager of the organization where they have applied. They are forced to take a low to mid-low level job in a field outside of their field of study. (I am speaking during up economic swings. Currently, MIT grads are working at the local Piggly Wiggly). High academic standards enable even the weakest of students to be productive and innovative members of society.

We must not expect and then accept athletes who do not score well in the classroom. Expecting athletes to maintain at the least a “C” average is not too much. It is not too much to expect them to be “A” students when one takes into account the high level of tutoring offered to athletes. Tutoring that is offered at no cost, at the dorm, and at a time that suits them best. JSU is not a victim of racism. It has placed its entire student body at risk by not holding athletes more accountable for their educational progress. JSU has had a year to get the athletes back on track. I do not see this measure as a strike against JSU but as an opportunity for the Athletic Department at JSU to correct a ongoing issue that did not start last year.

(Note: The actual scores are not far below the passing mark but failure is failure. Although I did not attend JSU, I do recommend JSU to above average academic achieving high school children. The school itself offers an excellent education for those who desire to receive it.)


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