Monday, April 7, 2008

Dumbing down of America

Let me preface this by saying that I was a Division I athlete (Rowing). My husband was a Division I athlete (Basketball). It's not like I am going to throw this out there like a true academic privileged person. This is something that bothered me when I was in college, and it continues to bother and worry me now that I have a son. So-- on topic.

The dumbing down of America for "student"-athletes really annoys the dickens out of me. Many mainstream news outlets corrected Derrick Rose's (University of Memphis) post-game statement, but in its "raw" form, it disgusts me. He said:
“Going into the game, we knew we was gonna win, so ... ain’t too much to say.”
Now, I am not perfect. I don't pretend to be, but look at that statement. This young man is at Memphis as a student-athlete, yet he speaks like a first grader. Admittedly, he is a freshman, and I doubt he will return for his sophomore season, but all that does is bring to question whether or not one and done athletes have a place in collegiate athletics. That is a topic for another post.

What irks me is that we are dumbing down curriculum to keep these athletes eligible-- if they attend class at all. The problem is not limited to large public universities, though it is easier to slide by there than in the smaller schools, and is not limited to the "profit" sports. It is unfortunate that these athletes slide by in high school. They fall through the cracks as a result of their athletic ability, but unlike the rest of the students in their class, no one sees it as tragic. No one recognizes or acts upon the disservice to the athlete. Yes, a small percentage of student athletes will turn professional. The odds for a men's basketball player? 0.03% of NCAA Men's basketball players will have a shot at the NBA.

Yes, there are spots available overseas, but some of those spots in the US are also taken up by international players. And I will tell you from our personal experience, playing overseas, while it can be immensely rewarding, is also a BIG ASS headache! For example, unlike in the US, you have to worry about getting paid on time...if at all. Which brings me back to the idea that we are not doing these athletes any favors by dumbing down our education system to meet their needs.

Anyone else agree? Or think I am nuts?


KaritaG said...

I agree. As a comm major, which seemed to be the major du jour for athletes, I saw this constantly. As a matter of fact, I remember one particular incident where someone you know, that I went out with briefly, was kept eligible when he shouldn't have been in a class I had with him just so he could play. Hint - he had a two year old that screamed through our V-day date. Anyway, I remember it being openly discussed amongst him and our teacher, and it drove me crazy, especially since I had to be "lumped into" a supposedly stupid major with those guys.

Susie said...

100%! What good are college (even high school) sports if you're not getting an education?

Also, athletes are oft times default spokespeople for their school, their state and even our country. It's important that people know correct grammar.

I've learned a lot of grammar and spelling post graduation, just from writing (even on my blog) and my number one editor (my mom). I'm grateful for it and know I am privileged to have the base education and the continued learning.

Here here, Maria!

care said...

I agree. but...

it takes two to tango. how much of that despicable grammar is the result of his own lack of desire to learn? it is almost impossible to go through grade school and not learn the grammar he screwed up, you know?

if he'd ended a sentence with a preposition we could've blamed middle school, but even then, athletics aren't the big deal then. by the time he got to the point where teachers let things slide due to his athletic prowess, the problem was likely already there. it's not like he forgot to talk.

sure, no one fixed it, but I don't think you can blame the school system entirely. this is a problem from the bottom up. pay the teachers 10k more and lower the class size to no more than 20 and MAYBE you can blame the system alone. but even at the collegiate level, trying to bring him up to speed is actually going to take away from the learning experience of others...

so I think if he didn't have the drive or desire, and they clearly don't have the resources, then I'm not sure the all blame should fall on the education system and it's looking the other way. it's still a problem, to be sure, but perhaps you need to point the finger at him, too.

sorry for the long comment!

Kyra, Mark, Hannah & Sarah said...

I agree. Here in our school system they are getting ready to re-write the eligibility rules because something like 85 out of 153 students I don't remember the exact numbers but about 50%) of our high school's athletes are getting 2 or more D's or F's and are still playing. It makes me so mad that they can have a D or F period and still be allowed to play. We couldn't in middle or high school when I was growing up. UGH!!!

All these kids have to do is show up in their seminar class (homeroom) and have the teacher sign off that they were there and are working on their grades and they can play. I don't think after this revision though that they will be playing at all if they aren't passing - and they shouldn't!!!

Kyra, Mark, Hannah & Sarah said...

I agree 100%. There was an article in our newspaper that was talking about our school district getting ready to re-write our eligibitly rules. I think the article said that out of something like 153 students 85 of them were failing (D's or F's) two or more classes (I don't remember exact numbers but it was right around 50% of the students).

I know when I was in school we couldn't have a D or F period or we didn't play. It makes me so mad!!

Kyra, Mark, Hannah & Sarah said...

Sorry. You probably will get my comment twice as I didn't realize you had comment moderation on.

Maria said...

I keep the moderation on for this blog, because sometimes I get rather inappropriate responses... with cursing and telling me that I am a lot of not nice words-- especially with regard to my breastfeeding posts.

Care-- good point, but at that point, I have to say the child had poor role models speaking to them at a young age, and the parents and the school failed them!

care said...

quite possible. but even in that case, some of the blame has to fall on the athlete him/herself. Another BIG part of the system here is lack of accountability for ones own actions, you know?

I'm not saying it's all his fault. But plenty of people with "bad" parents or a lack of role models still have the potential to succeed.

I just think it's kind of, well, over-the-top to say that none of this could possibly have anything to do with him. That doesn't excuse the situation at all, but he's gotta be accountable too.

Maria said...

Oh, I totally agree. He and all student-athletes need to take the initiative to rise above their situation. I'll post an article...or part of an article re: an incoming TU basketball player if I can find it back. He is purposeful in his actions and words-- perhaps even in spite of the lack of a father in his life-- and his mom was also active in ensuring his success.

ChristinaG said...

That was my experience as well. I complained to the coach on the track team in college that I couldn't keep up with my work as a computer science major. His response? "Why don't you switch to something easier like phys ed?" I ended up quitting the team after failing a class!

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