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**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
Patrick and Lindsey are best friends, and as their senior year of high school begins, they are anxious to look at colleges and begin the application process. Patrick has always been an athlete: while he tries hard in school, his main focus has always been becoming captain of the football team, which results in his grades being below average. On the other hand, Lindsey is a straight-A student who consistently takes AP and Honors courses, is student body president, and has an impressive list of a variety of extracurricular actives.
The academic disparity between Patrick and Lindsey has never caused an issue with their friendship in the past, but in applying to colleges Lindsey seems to think she has an advantage and will not stop bragging about what great schools she will be accepted to. As the year progresses, Lindsey submits many college applications, including some to the top universities in the country, and spends many grueling hours a week perfecting each application and essay. On the other hand, Patrick has yet to submit any applications despite the deadlines approaching, because he is too busy practicing his football skills, going to the gym, and visiting the trainer before and after school. Lindsey reminds Patrick of how difficult the applicant pool will be this year and advises Patrick to start on his applications, particularly because he is already at a disadvantage with a low GPA.
Several days later, Patrick and Lindsey’s high school has a football game against their biggest rival. The stadium is filled, and scouts are scattered among the bleachers. Patrick makes one amazing play after another and leads the team to victory. Several days later Patrick receives a recruiting call from one of the top colleges Lindsey has applied to, and he is offered a full ride scholarship to play college football. Thrilled, Patrick verbally commits and plans are made to sign the official papers.
Being a good friend, Lindsey is happy for Patrick, but can't help feeling anxious about her own college prospects. Later that week, Lindsey receives multiple denial letters, one of which is from the college Patrick has just committed to, and Lindsey is now overcome with resentment.
Should athletes (such as Patrick) be held to the same academic standards of the general applicant pool (which Lindsey was part of)? Is it possible or even realistic for athletes to take advanced courses and put as much time into studying for school as non-athletes when athletes have practices, games, travel, and tournaments? Should the practice and dedication Patrick put into football be considered equivalent to Lindsey’s efforts in the classroom?
Grading College Athletes
College Athletes: Academic Performance: Behind the Line on Grades
College Athletics: Necessary, Not Just Nice to Have
by Jamie Williams available under a Creative Commons license.