Today, I read a tweet from Dr. Steve Perry expressing his frustration with the lack of effort he sees from our student-athletes. It is definitely a recurring theme, especially in our African American community.
My oldest son, a graduating senior, was a two sport athlete that had to work hard in the classroom. He didn’t come to the realization that he had to work hard in the classroom on his own. Early in high school, I sent a lot of emails and communicated with his coaches and teachers. By his junior year, he had learned to get the extra help he needed without much promoting from mom.
I always made it clear to him that his performance on the field meant nothing without earning good grades in the classroom. I know I remember telling him several times I could care less about football; it means nothing if you don’t graduate from high school. He got to see this first hand one season as the star quarterback was unable to finish the season because he was ineligible, mostly because of his lack of effort, even when the teachers and staff tried to help him.
Sadly there are to many parents who think sports are their children's “tickets out.” So many parents and athletes don’t understand that any scholarship offers are contingent on acceptance to the university or that coaches prefer to invest in students who aren’t struggling just to finish high school. One of the biggest misconceptions is that their child will get a full scholarship for sports when in reality those are far and few between.
This year, my son finished out his final high school football season. Late in the season, I noticed that a freshman who is slated to take his place wasn’t dressed for the last few games. My son later shared he was ineligible because of his grades. I recently saw him on campus and of course I asked him about the upcoming season. I asked him what subject he was struggling in and told him how to get the help he needed to be successful. He was surprised when I told him my son had the same struggle and how much his classmates and teachers spent tutoring him. He promised me he would ask for help, and I am going to make it a point to hold him to that.
There is so much academic college money left on the table by athletes because they didn’t put forth the effort to make the grade. In the end, my two sport athlete accepted a full-tuition academic scholarship to his school of choice. He was thankful that I pushed him in the classroom and didn’t let him fall into the belief that sports were his only ticket to the next level.