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Academics, athletics go together

By Anthony Rhoads

I rarely get angry. Around the office I'm known as an easy-going kind of guy who usually rolls with the punches and I don't let things bother me too much.

But last week on the way back from an assignment, I was incensed at what I heard on a sports talk show on the radio.

The topic was academics and athletics at the collegiate level.

One caller's proposal was that football players should be allowed to major in football. The major would be an off-shoot of the physical education and athletics departments.

Football players would not have to go to class in the fall and they would get course credit for playing football.

His reasoning was that these athletes have dedicated their entire lives to athletics and it would be unfair to them if they had to worry about academics.

They have chosen athletics as their life ambition and should not have anything that would hinder that pursuit. (Even though it wasn't explicitly stated, there was a hint of racism and bigotry to this guy's comments.)

When I heard this guy say all this, my blood began to boil and I turned off the radio because, even though I am an easy-going guy, I have a low tolerance for stupid people.

Let's examine his proposal.

It is true that some people dedicate their lives to athletics. There's nothing wrong with that. Sports has saved countless young men and women. It is an arena where young people can be given a chance to excel. But sports should be used as a springboard to success in life after han athlete's playing days are through.

Let's just say that if there were actually a football, baseball, basketball, etc. major what would you do with that degree once you were finished with school? What practical benefit would a football degree serve?

If you are dedicated to athletics and want to pursue sports as a career, why not major in physical education and become a coach?

There's nothing at all wrong with that. If you become a teacher and coach, you not only will be gainfully employed after your playing days are over, you will have the chance to pass on your knowledge and wisdom to young people.

And that's another thing that needs to be addressed. Just because someone is an athlete, doesn't mean that they are dumb. When you say things like ?athletes shouldn't have to worry about academics' it's really an insult to true student-athletes.

It's true there are some student-athletes whodon't really excel in the classroom. It is true that there are some student-athletes who view themselves as athletes first and students second.

But the clich? of the ?big dumb jock' doesn't apply anymore to the vast majority of student-athletes.

Academics should always be stressed and strict guidelines should be enforced for athletes to be eligible to play. If you take away the academics, it does a tremendous disservice to the student-athletes. Yes, they might be able to play their sports if academic standards are lowered, but what will they have later in life?

Anthony Rhoads is a sports writer for The Daily. His column appears each Wednesday. He can be reached at arhoads@news-daily.com or sports@news-daily.com.