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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Criticizing student athletes on academics is counterintuitive

    Participating in athletics takes time and effort. It may keep some students away from academics, but so does a part-time job. Student-athletes shouldn’t have to shoulder the blame if critics think paying their tuition is a problem for colleges and universities. Athletics aren’t the issue; the academic communities are.

    The NCAA surveyed more than 20,000 student-athletes in 2010 and found that, in men’s basketball and football, athletics was a bigger factor than academics when it came time to choose a college. Players also spend more time on their sport than their homework and see themselves more as athletes than as a students.

    This sounds like basic logic to me. If these students are good enough to be NCAA-worthy athletes, they may be able to get athletic scholarships. If the choice is be good at a sport or be in debt, it makes sense that the academic quality of the university might not be the first thought that comes to mind.

    Once athletes start attending the university that paid them to play a sport, it is perfectly understandable why they commit more to training than to studying. If the school is going to pay athletes to do what they do best, then why do people frown upon athletes for doing what they are being paid to do?

    Students who have part-time jobs don’t get a hard time. There is a societal understanding that what they are doing is a means to an end.

    Sports, with the frequent traveling and physical stress, seem to be the same thing — extra responsibility for students to juggle with classes.

    According to a 2008 study by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which examined the SAT scores of 53 schools, there was at least an 88-point difference between the student body’s average and that of football team members’ average score.

    While many may see this as a free pass to athletes, it’s not.

    The UA is known for its great athletics. Last year, the men’s basketball team made it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. Whether we like it or not, the UA community wants these athletes at this school.

    Sports make college fun. Whether a participant or a spectator, athletics brings people together. Athletics gives students the opportunity to go to different schools that they may not fit into academically.

    At the end of the day, the fact is that academics aren’t everything that make up college. Student-athletes shouldn’t be criticized for not adding academic prestige to an institution when their purpose on campus is devoted to a big part of any major U.S. university: school spirit.

    — Megan Hurley is a journalism junior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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