One of the most annoying commercials I’ve seen on television is the one with the parents who say they taught their 5-year-old how to dunk in order to save money by not contributing to his college fund.
Near the end, the mother says, “Scholarship!”
Yes, I know it’s done for laughs since the kid is left hanging on the basketball goal in the driveway. It’s supposed to trumpet the saving you’ll get through another source.
As ridiculous as it seems, there are parents out there who do pin all their hopes on athletics as a route to college.
For some, it is a realistic goal. For others, it can be little more than a fantasy.
But parents enlist recruiting services, rely on high school coaches to get the word out, or simply do the leg work themselves to contact colleges.
While it is always good to have a dream, work hard and use every means possible to attain it, parents and student-athletes should never take their eye off that ultimate prize - a quality education.
That’s why we use the term student-athlete, right?
Too often, even on the high school level, I think we reverse things to the point that young athletes are more like athlete-students than anything else.
I am the biggest advocate out there when it comes to the role of high school athletics. Though some would like to see athletics cut back in order to boost academics, I believe athletics, when managed the right way, can produce great student-athletes.
But instead of just perfecting that cross-over dribble or a perfect spiral in order to fuel that dream of playing on the next level, there must be a balance. Read a book. Or spend as much time as you spend on sports trying to shore up a weaker academic area like mathematics.
Each year, student-athletes and their teams are asked to set goals for their season. These might range from a particular number of wins to claiming a state title.
How about setting an academic challenge that goes along with those athletic goals? Set goals for a team grade point average and individual grade point averages.
Come on now, I dare you.
Chart your progress along the way and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Once the teachers find out what these goals are, I’m pretty sure many will be willing to lend their support.
In addition to being a great way to boost GPAs, goals like this will go a long way toward breaking down the walls that often put athletics and academics in opposite corners.
And the possibilities are endless. Players at different position could compete against each other in GPA contests.
Coaches - this one is specifically for you. Each week when you recognize top performers on the field, also take some time to note the top performances in the classroom, too.
Everybody is familiar with the dance called the Louisiana Two-Step.
I’d like to see academics partnered with athletics in new and innovative ways. That’s a Louisiana Two-Step I’d love to see.