I wrote “Examining the coexistence of academics and athletics” not because I thought people would agree; it is an op-ed, not a news article. Rather, I wrote this in order to spark a campus-wide conversation about a topic that I believe people frequently avoid (largely for social reasons). As a sister of a former Wheaton athlete, I stand behind what I have said and reiterate that the increasing attention on sports relative to academics is a societal issue.
I acknowledge that Wheaton does have athletes who also thrive in the classroom. Of the 601 students on the Dean’s List this fall, 88 participate in collegiate sports. Some members of the women’s basketball team at Wheaton have maintained 4.0’s for the entirety of their careers. However, I uphold my proposition that athletic schedules should be approved by academic advisors. Every student should have the ability to choose classes without being limited by a time cap. Every student should not fear saying no to doing something because of impending homework or tests.
Certainly, Wheaton is not alone in this ongoing tension between scholastics and athletics. It is a case study within the greater American education system. Of course there are problems within this system that are unrelated to the realm of sports, such as curriculum and funding for schools.
But, it is important to note that the U.S. is unique among industrialized nations in its attention to athletics of all levels. In these nations that are also testing higher in mathematics and science, athletics are not considered for admissions into educational institutions. The athletic recruitment that is present at every college in America is a foreign concept in these other countries. Students are not commonly told that it’s unfortunate that they don’t play a sport because doing so would give them a better chance at going to a school for which they academically qualify.
To keep this brief, as I know both sides of this issue could put forth a plethora of arguments, I want to end with two final messages. To athletes of every age, remember sports were created for enjoyment and should never be sources of additional stress. To students of every age, remember that education is something once received that no one can take away from you, and that your mind can never be benched.