Change, it is the only constant. As the world of collegiate sports grows, so will the skepticism, greed, the need to win at all costs. But what exactly is the cost? The high-profile schools expect their athletes to perform to their highest capacity. Schools give athletes incentives and scholarships, bringing in superb athletes to help them win and make them money. While giving them little time to spend on their academic studies. Is this fair for the athlete? Is it fair for the non-athletes? We are one of the only countries who have combined sports and academics. Is there a way we can better integrate sports and academics?
Of all the athletes that participate in collegiate sports only a very small percentage actually make it to play professionally. In a chapter from “Defenses of College Athletics”, Simon noted that in the late 1950’s athletes were the majority and were also highly ranked academically. This is no longer the case; as greed increased the drop out rate followed. “Furthermore, They suggest that if athletes are given too great an admissions advantage, and perform much worse academically than their classmates, and they drag down the academic atmosphere of the whole institution” (Simon 158). Major collegiate sports have seemed to lose grasp on what sport is really about at the amateur level, causing negative feelings towards sports in college. Although I do not believe that sports “drag down the academic atmosphere”, I do think that there is a huge imbalance in collegiate sports. You have your hard working athletes who have small scholarships and no incentive, but still work hard in their quest for excellence in their sport. Then you have the high-profile athletes, who are giving every advantage possible in order for them to be able to perform well enough, to win, to make money, so they can pay the coach an absurd salary and buy all the newest gear. Brand states “less that one half 1% of Division I scholarship players each year have an opportunity to play in the professional NBA, and the large majority of those have short careers.” Should we pay our athletes at the college level? No, I do not think that is a good idea. It will just perpetuate attitude that athletes must do all that it takes to win. If athletes are going to receive academic scholarships they should also be given ample time to focus on their academic classes, along with receiving some credit for their participation in athletics. I believe that the athlete who must work hard to pay for their education or keep their scholarship will then receive the positive that athletic participation may provide. We a need to consider the ultimate purpose of sport and if sport can have a similar purpose as education? How can we merge the two fields to make sports more acceptable?
The best type of knowledge is self- knowledge. In the best cases participating in a sport will definitely tell you a lot about yourself. In Simons article he mentions that participating in a sport has the ability to teach you how to work as a team, analyze and over come weakness, gain confidence, stay cool under pressure, and improve your determination and perseverance. These traits are most definitely transferable to a business setting. Improving their chances of succeeding after graduation. Overall, sport has the ability to be a great tool in fine-tuning the connection between the mind and body. Some of these traits may also be taught in other ways, but sport is truly the only activity that brings the widest variety of people together to achieve a common goal. I believe there is a way to re-think the paradigm of sport in colleges.
In the articles by Simon and Brand, they both mentioned a common parallel between the performing arts and sports. They both provide a form of entertainment to students and all else who will join; both must learn factual knowledge about their activity, have long grueling practices, and while some athletes go straight to playing professionally, there are musical prodigies who bypass college to perform in orchestras. If performing arts and sports are so comparable why is it that the performing arts are more accepted as part of an academic program? In a performing arts school the students will take, for example, dance classes but also take academic classes that pertain to dance. Why cant athletes take classes such as injury prevention, anatomy, weightlifting? These classes will not only teach them about themselves, but will stay with them through their life.
Society is shifting. Changing, and we must change with it. Collegiate athletics have drafted into a black hole of greed, fraud, and a “win at all costs” attitude; this must change. Athletics are a major part of our school systems whether the professors and other skeptics like it or not. So in order to provide some common ground we must find one; One in which the athletes will receive that proper education along with a great athletic experience. It is never easy to change something that is embedded deeply into a culture, but it must be done. To reform athletics in universities in colleges is not taking a step back, I like to consider it turning around at the cliffs edge and taking a step forward, in the right direction.