Why student athletes should value their education


Grant Sharretts

Student-athletes nationwide consider themselves to be more of an athlete than a student. It is always important to have a backup plan for your future.

You have been taught religiously that schoolwork always comes before sports. However, it’s not until students’ later years when they believe sports may have a step above schooling.

If you have the pure talent for it, and it has been apparent from a young age, then you should be encouraged to do the thing you do best. The practicality of professional sports as a career is much more farfetched than a lot believe. Many students cannot rely on their athletics to compensate for other aspects of success and carry them through life.

College athletes need to realize they are receiving a free education which many people dedicate their lives trying to work towards. Sports can’t take everyone through life, and you have to have a backup plan for your career. That way, no matter what, you have a backup plan that could save your life.

According to research done by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, less than two percent of college athletes in football, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s soccer become professionals. Meaning the other 98 percent must seek real work after graduating.

So when some athletes believe they have a strong chance of making it professional, they should take a step back and assess their chances.

Of course, going professional doesn’t guarantee that you will find complete success and have enough money for a career. This is why the fantasy of believing sports should come before academics is absurd.

As stated previously, only two percent of college athletes make it to the pros, so why should you blow off so many classes and spend so much time in a place that might take you nowhere fast? The other 98 percent of athletes need to eventually find jobs, and the quickest way to obtain that is through a proper college education.

As a graduate student at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, Mary Willingham, a college academic advisor for athletes, researched the reading levels of 183 University of North Carolina Chapel Hill athletes who played football or basketball. She found that a staggering 60 percent of that population read between a fourth and eighth grade level.

This shows not just a problem with college athletes blowing off academic work, but the lower standards for athletes, and shows a dangerous pattern of this behavior throughout grade school and high school.

It’s very important to remember that some of these athletes could be leaving school within that year, which means these athletes could be professionals and quite possibly read at the same level as a fourth grader. Statistically, showing the true value of academics and why it is so important on and off the field.

The values can also be translated into the risk factor of injuries in sports. There are countless college and professional athletes that have suffered career-ending injuries. This can be dangerous when mixed with the amount of players that go professional and do not finish their college career and their bachelor’s degree before they enter their respective sport’s draft.

If they suffer a career-ending injury in their professional sport, they could be left with no secondary career if they didn’t take advantage of their opportunities in college.

More athletes need to value their education and take advantage of the opportunities they have.

Grant Sharretts is a Sports Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.