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Bo Knew Football and Baseball, and He Didn’t Major in Either One of Them.

In: English and Literature

Submitted By dgauthier46
Words 1895
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It is the dream of many young children and teenagers to become a professional athlete, most of them have a favorite athlete that they idolize. When children are very young it is important to encourage them to dream, and to pursue their passions. But there comes a time when it is not in the child’s best interest to mislead them into thinking they actually have a chance at becoming a pro athlete. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (2013), only 2% of college athletes are talented enough to play at the professional level. Logically thinking, this means that 98% of student athletes should be preparing themselves in college with a back-up plan for life after collegiate sports, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case. In fact, some people actually support the idea that student athletes should be able to major in the sport they play, and not study for a major that would be more beneficial to them in life. Student athletes that enter college directly after high school lack life experience, and they need guidance when making such decisions that will impact their life so dramatically. It is in these times when we should push students to their limits in order to make them grow to be the best they can be, not let them take the path of least resistance and settle for mediocrity. Allowing student athletes to choose their sport as a major may be the obvious choice for some, but doing so would actually hurt them instead of benefitting them. If we truly care about the futures of student athletes we will encourage them to prepare for life after sports, whenever that may be, and not enable them to take the easy way out.
Two excellent examples of college’s incompetence involving the education of student athletes were given in the article “Educating College Athletes” by David Petina. Petina talks about the quality of education received by two former players in the NFL, Ron Harmon and Dexter Manley. As a “student athlete” at the University of Iowa, Harmon was a physical education major who was allowed to build a course study that included classes such as bowling, billiards, and watercolor painting. Unfortunately Harmon never finished his degree, but even if he had, the courses he was taking to “earn” the degree would not have helped him prepare for any kind of career; so what does it matter. Manley attended Oklahoma State University for four years, and left unable to read even a newspaper. These are just two examples of the “education” that student athletes receive at many of our country’s universities. The only reason we know of their stories is because they were talented enough to move on to the next level, and were able to bring light to this situation. Harmon enjoyed a long successful career in the NFL, and Manley eventually went back to school so he could learn to read. What are the stories of the other ninety eight percent each year who are not talented enough to have a professional career in sports? What were they able to make of their lives after not making the best of their time while in college? If we give student athletes the option to major in their sport, we would essentially be awarding them the same type of worthless degree as Harmon was working towards.
Petina contrasts the previous examples against two schools who value academics as high as they do athletics, Duke University and the University of Notre Dame. Historically, both have always been ranked among the top schools which graduate the greatest proportion of their student athletes. The requirements that both of these schools set for their student athletes should be the standard for what the NCAA requires of all its student athletes, but sadly they are not. Here are a few of the requirements that Petina lists in his article: “Both schools require athletes to take a full academic load, so that they can graduate on time. At both institutions the admissions office, not the athletic department, has the final say as to which recruits will attend the institution, thus assuring that all student athletes are adequately prepared for course work at the school… Neither institution redshirts their athletes, a practice which gives many competitors at other schools five years to complete their studies. The lack of redshirting at Duke and Notre Dame forces athletes to graduate in four years during which they are eligible to play their sport or pay for any additional schooling that they require” (Petina, para 3). So properly educating student athletes is possible, and can be done so without sacrificing a winning athletic program. Duke University and the University of Notre Dame prove that it can be done with hard work and effort from the school and the student. If you give student athletes the option to choose between the easy way and the road less traveled, most will take the easy way out; and most schools will let them because they don’t really care about their education or future, just what they can do for them athletically.
Cheyenne Paiva, author of the article “Passion should not be the only motivation for educational choices made during college,” claims “So, what if most people get jobs unrelated to their major? If that is the case, then a college degree is worth no more than that sheet of paper bought with tens of thousands of abused dollars. An unused degree is a useless degree and, frankly, a criminal waste of effort put into a major you thought would be relevant or at least worth your time” (Paiva, para 2). I could not have put it better myself. This is the number one reason why we cannot allow student athletes to major in their sport, because we already know the slim chances of an athlete making it to the pros. We are misleading athletes into thinking they are accomplishing something academically, all while setting them up for failure after they graduate. How can we do this to student athletes at a time in their lives when they need our guidance and wisdom the most?
Author David Pargman asks the question “Why do we impose upon young, talented, and serious-minded high-school seniors the imperative of selecting an academic major that is, more often than not, completely irrelevant to, or at least inconsistent with, their heartfelt desires and true career objectives: to be professional athletes?” (Pargman, para 4). Because we care about them, and their future David Pargman. Because we want them to be successful in life in whatever they do, and that may or may not include sports. But chances are, it won’t include sports. I think of the thought process of David Pargman and Sally Jenkins a lot when I am watching the audition phase of the program, American Idol. Every contestant claims that everyone has told them their whole life that they sound beautiful, even though their voice resembles nails on a chalkboard. They are in complete shock, and a lot of them are physically distraught by the fact that they are not going to be a professional recording artist. They have no idea what they are going to do next with their lives now that this dream has been crushed right before their eyes. Here is my question, is it the contestants fault that they have a terrible voice or is it the fault of all of their fake supporters who want them to follow their hearts desire, only to watch them fall flat on their faces in front of America?
Why not establish a well-planned, defensible, educationally sound curriculum that correlates with a career at the elite level of sports? Pargman advocates, “College athletes would truly be preparing for a well-defined, societally approved professional future. Their degree upon graduation would be a B.A. in sports performance. Their required coursework and laboratory experiences would relate to future professional needs, expectations, and demands” (Pargman, para 13). This could not be further from the truth. The “sports performance” major Pargman describes does not even come close to the suggested curriculum at similar colleges. Any former student athlete applying for a position such as an athletic trainer would be at an embarrassing disadvantage with a “sports performance” degree. Using Pargman’s thinking, student athletes would now officially be able to waste their time in college because people like Professor Pargman want to invent a major to make it easier for student athletes to graduate with a degree.
What kind of career would majoring in a sport prepare you for? Nothing. It would not even prepare you for a career in that particular sport. The only thing that can prepare you for a professional career in sports is talent, something you cannot learn in a classroom, and something that ninety eight percent of student athletes don’t have enough of to make it. The purpose of college is to gain an education, broaden your horizons a little, and become a well-rounded student ready to take on the “real” world. College is not meant to waste your time and money on a hobby of some sort. All student athletes who are lucky enough to go to college should be proud of what they accomplished, and should come away with something useful for their lives. If people really cared about student athletes and what is best for them, not just what they can do for you on the field or court, they would push student athletes to pursue a quality education as they do at universities like Duke or Notre Dame. Just because a student athlete is likely to move on to the next level, anyone will tell you they are only an injury away from ending their illustrious career. It is imperative that student athletes prepare themselves for life after sports, whenever that may be, because a career in professional sports does not last forever. If you don’t know how to manage your money, it won’t last nearly as long either. How many former professional athletes have we read about that have gone bankrupt a few years after their careers ended? Do you think they would have benefitted from a class in how to manage their money if it was required that they have to take one? There is a saying that the letters “N-F-L” stand for “Not For Long.” It means an NFL career is the best thing that could ever happen to anyone lucky enough to have one, but beware; life after football can be a nightmare that completely overshadows the few great years it lasted if you are not adequately prepared for it.

Jenkins, S. (2011, October 5). NCAA Colleges Should Consider Offering Sports As An
Academic Major. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

Paiva, C. (2012, December 3). Passion Should Not be the Only Motivation for Educational
Choices Made During College. The Crimson White. Retrieved from

Pargman, D. (2012, November 26). End the Charade: Let Athletes Major in Sports. The
Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.

Petina, David. (1990, March). Educating College Athletes. Res Publica. Retrieved from

National Collegiate Athletic Association Web Site. (2013). Retrieved from…...

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