The Minds of Athletes

September 26, 2011
by Justin
Did you know that according to NCAA numbers, there are over 380,000 student-athlete’s in the U.S.. With those numbers, the NCAA has made it a priority that the majority of those students success is done outside of the playing field. With many student athletes who have sports ambition beyond the high school football field, the NCAA has made is a paramount obligation to make sure that while they excel in their football field, they do not want their character, intellect, and occupational future to stay left behind. Since 1906, the NCAA has found the key to maintain the course on equipping students with the abilities to persevere in all their fruitful pursuits in life, and to always remember that their achievements on the field is truly complimentary. And in 1997, the NCAA came together as a non-profit to assure that football players would have that same chance.
For football players, the standard has never been set so high. With over 1,200 colleges, universities, and athletic organization that comprise NCAA membership, aspiring college football players have a safe balance of education, and character development that the NCAA provides. In maintaining that standard, the NCAA has overcome leaps and bounds to accommodate student athletes of all ranges of learning development. For instance, academic standards for football players have accelerated along with the industry. College football is one of the most widely marketed sports on the planet, and with that, it is also one of the most financially successful. In December of last year, college football revenue peaked at $1 Billion by the end of the season. Texas alone profited over $68million in profit. These are the times, indeed.
Now, with a college football market booming in revenue and accumulating a high degree of financial potential, it is easy to forget about the players and their progression in academia. However, according to the last recorded assessment among student athlete rankings, student grades among football players are up 3 points over last year. Furthermore, teachers and counselors have come to the agreement that for the “for the first time in intercollegiate sports, we have a common language and common expectation around academics.” Student athletes are being transformed because the perspective has changed in academia. Educators are becoming more and more aware of the strong need for academia to become paramount is a students life.
There was a problem that I’ve even experienced in my old home town of (remain nameless), New Mexico. Football was the sport that everybody cheered about. Now, when I say everybody, I mean the town would shut down for the high school football team. Needless to say, the attention was drawn, by families, by peers, and by many teachers. I being a football player was let off the hook for so many things. “Homework not turned in? That’s ok, I understand you had a hard practice last night, don’t worry about the homework, just beat that (nameless team) tonight!” As a result I suffered in other classes where teachers did not care about what football team we were playing. However, it was only until my last year of high school where they had an appropriation policy regarding student-athletes, that their grades had to be held to a standard GPA, or else we wouldn’t be able to play. Now, as painful as that was, thanks to the NCAA, it made all the difference in the world. My grades transformed, my college possibilities opened up, and it felt better. My physical strength had been exercised to the point where my intellect was ignored. I can truly understand the need for these pursuits to be vested.
The sad fact is that for high school students, they may be a star on the football field come senior year, but when college recruiters, who are held to strict, but necessary NCAA guidelines, come around, if the student’s grades are not up to par, they can be denied acceptance. However, the good news is that according to these NCAA guidelines, football players APR average is up two points over last year in a continual progression. Students are starting to accelerate in classes and on the football field. According to an NCAA Study, over the past 7 years, more than 8,400 student-athletes earned APR points for their former team by returning to college after their eligibility expired, and they earned their degree. The need for student to maintain their GPA’s in high school is critical for their acceptance to college football. Furthermore, GPA’s are imperative for students who are accepted into football to maintain university standards so their eligibility does not expire. With the standard being cemented, it not only allows student-athletes the opportunity to exercise their football talents on the field, but experience a bright and engaging future by learning the joy education can bring.
The NCAA has made it know that instead of reform, they look to “academic success and academic performance as a natural and  automatic expectation of being a student-athlete.” Furthermore, the NCAA states the need to “keep working on that performance, just as a team works to improve it’s athletic performance, so their academics continue to rise as well.” Proven and true students who are performing well in the classroom are performing well on the field and have a deeper appreciation for their peers, and coaches, and strive to continue the understanding of what success really is. The minds of student-athletes need to be recognized first and foremost, because it will ultimately affect the heart and soul of the game.

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