Education and College Athletes

What do you think the average reading level is for a college athlete?

Especially the big money sports?

You’ve probably guessed the obvious, that some college athletes are not let’s say “the best” readers of the bunch. With all the NCAA scandals over the last few years, no one is really surprised about this. But the numbers presented in this article are shocking. At least shocking to me.

http://us.cnn.com/2014/01/07/us/ncaa-athletes-reading-scores/index.html?sr=sharebar_facebook

The highlights for those of you who don’t want to read the whole thing:

The Focus

  1. 21 Public Schools – http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2014/01/us/college-scores/index.html
  2. The schools elected to participate and submitted the numbers to the study.
  3. Only money making sports were looked at.
  4. % of Student Athletes Under the SAT “literate” Score of 400
  5. % of Student Athletes Under the ACT “literate” Score of 16
  6. Average SAT/ACT score of an incoming athlete compared to the average for all incoming students

The Results

  1. 7-18% of athletes read at an elementary level
  2. Some athletes score 200-300 on SAT reading test (500 national average)
  3. Team ACT averages in the teens (20 national average)

My Thoughts

Today every kid deserves a chance and a significant number of these institutions have high graduation rates for their athletes. I’m not going to harp on the powers at be for giving them a chance. What I am wondering about is why we “worship” certain athletic abilities.

Perhaps it goes without saying that college sports other than Football and Basketball have much lower rates of “rule” bending on admissions tests. It makes sense, in reviewing applications you consider all the talents and gifts of prospective students. Besides colleges have to consider the type of alumni they are producing. The college makes money off these players and that forces a change in their evaluations.

Why do people like watching football and basketball so much that they’ll pay? We don’t just pay to see games and grab some delicious stadium nachos at the concession, we pay to get extra channels and subscriptions to different services to find out scores. We pay for memorabilia. We pay for plane tickets to go to the game. We pay to watch massive half time shows and advertisements all to get to the game.

Certainly football is fun. Certainly we have some formation in team spirit. Certainly they give opportunities for bands to play. But are the really worth it? We could have those without the games and the pomp and circumstance. Without the money.

An article a few years ago compared NCAA athletics to slavery. People are making money off of human bodies that are not getting paid and in some cases are paying (for school). I don’t think it’s an entirely valid conclusion. It may be more comparable to indentured servitude where there is an end and a payoff in sight. Let’s not sugar coat the reality that some kids wont be able to make it to college financially without such a bend in the system.

This CNN study opens up the problems that the obsession with money making has on the public university. When state funding isn’t enough to take care of the expense or the desire to expand, they have to take on other projects and capitalize on every available opportunity. The realignment of the NCAA conferences has shown just this proclivity.

As I said in the beginning, I don’t think we need to “fix” this situation. The motivations of everyone involved make sense, and there is some benefit in getting some students through an education. The numbers are so small compared to the overall admission rates that this makes me hope that we can get others a chance for the same opportunity.

Perhaps we should find ourselves in a position to accomplish this expansion. Let’s start by showing some interest in academics and academic competition as well as competitions of other sports. Perhaps worshiping “academics” and “research” make students and all of us in general look to gain a little more comprehension of what’s going on around us.

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About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
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