by Liz Kuehn
College athletics are integral parts of the college experience because they add to school spirit and can increase schools’ reputations. However, in too many cases, college athletes are not held to the same standards as the rest of the student body.
When athletes are recruited to play college sports, for example, the coach will go directly to admissions. According to the article “Student Athletes and The College Admissions Process” on educationaladvocates.blogspot.com, a coach will talk to admissions officers to convince them the student is the right match for the school. However, non-athletes do not have the opportunity of this extra person in the room advocating for their acceptance.
Recruited athletes’ acceptance is also based in part upon athletic abilities, which leads to discrepancies in academic achievement. According to the article “Athletes Show Huge Gaps in SAT Scores” from usnews.com, football players score on average 220 points lower than their classmates, and basketball players score 227 points lower. Admission for these players is thus prioritized over other students who may be better equipped for the school’s academic program.
Though talented high school athletes deserve to be rewarded by being able to play at the college level, the gap between the academic standards for athletes and non-athletes should be smaller. Colleges should hold all students to the same academic standard for admissions.
Additionally, once athletes attend college, they are sometimes provided with academic assistance that is unavailable to other students. According to the article “Athletes Get New College Pitch,” from nytimes.com, “the National Collegiate Athletic Association said Division I athletic departments spend at least $150 million annual on [academic support programs for athletes].” While it is important to help athletes succeed both on the field and in the classroom, students who commit the same amount of time to other activities should be offered the same perks as well.
Athletes who are able to play at the college level deserve to be given that opportunity. However, their academic abilities should match more closely with their athletic abilities, so that they will be more likely to succeed in college.
While there are some college athletes who will turn their sports into their careers, for many others the purpose of college is to study at a level of academics that will help prepare them for the work force.
Ultimately, participating in sports should only be an added activity, not an alternative to academics.