Commentary by Anthony: The Term “Student-Athlete” Is A Joke.



As a former “Student-Athlete” at the University of Washington I always thought this term was a joke.  Coming into the University of Washington from Garfield High School, my GPA was unacceptable by Udubs academic standards.

I had a 2.3 and my SAT score was an 890.   Frankly, this was way below many of my non athlete peers at Garfield. Not having the hope of entering as athletes. My non-basketball playing peers that took all AP classes, and had GPAs of 3.5 or higher and SAT scores of 1400 or higher, believed they needed grades to get into the University of Washington.

My friends were wrong. The reality is that it was easier for me based on the fact that I was 6’10” and had the ability to jump 36 inches in the air.  My athletic ability, according to the Udub was more important than getting good grades.  I say that because I was given a scholarship to attend Udub in order to play basketball for the school, while the majority of my former peers who desired to attend Udub based on academics and actually had the grades necessary were told they had to pay for school, and in the majority of cases were denied the opportunity to go to Udub altogether.

I was recently reading an article talking about changes made to the minimum GPA required to be a “student-athlete”.  Up until this year the minimum GPA an athlete could have was a 2.0.  The NCAA has bumped it up to a 2.3.  If athletes are students why aren’t they held to the same criteria as the majority of students on Udubs campus, or the majority of campuses nationwide?

The argument of the NCAA is that these are talented kids whose athletic success implies ability in other fields.  That would be a good thing, if the athletic departments of the NCAA took these kid’s academic needs seriously.  If a kid comes into the Udub with poor study habits, there is little to no chance he will actually get through school.  That is, unless he has all the help he needs to pass his classes.  The athletic department provides athletes with tutors.  The tutors are paid to keep athletes eligible, not teach them how to be good students.  Athletic departments have tutors doing everything from taking notes, and writing outlines for papers, to brainstorming ideas for “student athletes”. I don’t want to take away credit from the athletes who are good students and are able to handle the rigors of playing ball at the college level, as well as maintaining good grades.   I would argue that those players are the exception rather than the rule.  Athletes, not all but some often find themselves cheating in order to stay in school.  I know a few athletes who made the Dean’s list; the sad part about it is they cheated their way onto the list.

Time is something most if not all college athletes have little of.  It’s usually frowned upon by the coach if one does not put in the extra work beyond the 3 hours practice and game time.  Those three to four hours each day are not enough unless the coach is satisfied with the energy level of the players. Encouraged by coaches, and by competition with teammates, an athlete usually ends up in the gym for another hour to two hours.  The hard working players get the rewards; the coach plays them more and shows an appreciation towards them not shown to other players.

I am proud to be an athlete.  I believe the principles coaches teach in sports should and could easily be applied to academics as well.  Repetition, studying game film, and endless hours of training are encouraged by coaches when it comes to sports. When it comes to academics, coaches encourage “student-athletes” to do the minimum to stay academically eligible.  This was the case at Garfield High School as well.

Most of my fellow athletes will never get into the pros.  Former “student-athletes” like myself are undoubtedly hurt because the low criteria required for admission encouraged us not to work on academic skills in high school.   With that said, is free education really a fair exchange for the endless amount of physical labor these athletes give to the program?

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