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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • LV Times columnist: Concept of student-athlete constantly bogus

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  • It's just my observation, and I may be wrong, that some high school students rely too much on sports in high school.
    Some kids think if they do really well in football or basketball, the two big professional sports that pay a lot of money, they will not really need to rely on academics to provide them a career and an income.
    It has recently become obvious many college football and basketball players are realizing they need a union to guarantee them certain benefits, especially if they are injured and lose their scholarships.
    The concept of the student-athlete has been challenged as being pretty bogus in college, at least in the major colleges where football and basketball are very important and coaches make millions of dollars.
    Some of those on scholarship are reportedly working more than 40 hours per week for their sport. In my opinion, there is no way they can also be learning enough to become an engineer or a doctor or any other academic professional for that matter.
    I went to a college that was tops in ice hockey and one student who eventually became one of the best professional hockey players of his time was also enrolled in my forestry classes.
    He graduated with a degree in forestry and I know he never attended even one class with us, yet he apparently did well enough on his exams to graduate with a degree, or maybe they just gave him one.
    I have a brother-in-law who went to the same engineering school where I was studying forestry and he was on scholarship for football.
    Once, he informed the coach he could not attend practice because he had to study for his classes. The coach informed him that he was being paid a scholarship to play football, not to become an engineer.
    So, he dropped the scholarship, got a part-time job and some student loans, and graduated with a degree in engineering and actually worked as an engineer.  Even in the 1960s the concept of student-athlete was bogus.
    I don't know what the answer is, but one may be to remove sports from high school and concentrate on academics like science, art, music, technology and things that will get our youth solid employment.
    There are already excellent city and other programs for sports that can provide the outlet for kids to play. For example, Sporting Kansas City has an outstanding soccer program that not only provides training, but also provides great scholarships.
    Many cities have outstanding programs.
    Back in the 60s, we also had the military draft, so if you flunked out of high school, there was a good chance you were going directly to Vietnam after you finished Army Basics.
    Page 2 of 2 - Today, there is no risk for failing high school other than not being able to get a job, so there is little risk for a kid to put all of his or her efforts toward basketball or football and hope to get a scholarship and then go into the profession where they hope to make big money after a year of college.
    Student-athlete? Bogus.
    Sports are important and athletes are intelligent. They have to be very smart and talented to do well in professional sports, but those who don't make the cut are likely doomed to failure in the real world if they put all of their effort into sports and minimize academics.
    Personally, since football is dangerous and is not a sport that adults play like they do swimming, soccer, baseball, bicycling, tennis, bowling, etc., I would eliminate football entirely from school since it has little practical value to graduates.
    The cities and others can pick up football and deal with the risks while schools concentrate on education that will give kids employment.

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