We often sell our young people short when we judge their academic potential.
They respond to our low expectations with low achievement, especially in the entertainment industry known as college sports.
I've grown cynical. I can't watch "March Madness" without thinking of June sadness: the countless athletes who play out their eligibility without reaching the brass ring of professional stardom or a diploma.
To raise graduation rates in sports, we need to change the culture that produces the problem. That includes the socioeconomically underprivileged culture in which many athletes are raised. It also includes the culture of make-believe that causes us to pretend college basketball and football, in particular, are nothing more than amusing sideshows to the business of academics.
Duncan, who played basketball for
By comparison, the
Worse, the graduation gap between blacks and whites has widened, according to this year's report by
The race gap is poignantly significant in a world that disproportionately encourages underprivileged African American boys to invest their futures in hoop dreams. Coaches are not incorrect to point out the tough challenges of coaxing decent grades out of guys who don't come to college ready to learn anything but better jump shots. Yet athletes who routinely meet challenges on courts and playing fields also get serious about cracking open some books when they know the
Female players received that message long ago. In a culture and market that values men's basketball higher than the women's game, almost 80 percent of black female ballplayers and 90 percent of white female players on
In a just world, lucrative college enterprises such as football and basketball teams would act like the professional farm teams they actually are and pay their student athletes. Yet the
That raises a point made by "The Blind Side," the movie for which
That's what happens with even the least privileged young athlete when they have the right people around to support, encourage and motivate them. We could see more success stories like that, even for kids who aren't athletes, if we can change our culture.
NCAA March Madness & Diploma Sadness
We often sell our young people short when we judge their academic potential. They respond to our low expectations with low achievement, especially in the entertainment industry known as college sports.
While college basketball players graduate at a higher rate than nonathletes, the NAACP and the Department of Education argue that universities are leaving some of their student-athletes behind. Their concern arises from the expanding fissure between graduation rates of white and African-American college basketball players.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addressed the continuing contradiction between playing big-time college basketball and football and getting an education. Duncan proposed restoring freshman ineligibility and disqualifying from postseason competition teams with a graduation rate of less than 40 percent.
March Madness showcases the best of college sports -- rabid fan bases, historic rivalries, and a format that puts small rural colleges on par with big state powerhouses. But beneath the glam and glitz lies a problem the NCAA would rather leave unnoticed: the dismal classroom performance of its student athletes. It's time the NCAA acknowledged that problem
March Madness Trivia Quiz
David Replogle - The Real College Guide
Yep, March brings Madness -- the chaotic frenzy of the NCAA basketball tourney. All get abandoned in the name of college hoops, when the TV becomes a rallying point for unforgettable comebacks and incredible feats of athleticism. Think you’re a true fan of the Big Dance? Test your knowledge with 10 questions about the b-ball championship.
The principal goal of the BCS is not and never was to fairly determine a national champion. It was designed to maximize revenue for its members while limiting true competition. That makes it a cartel. If you ask me, they can still call it the BCS -- just change the words to Bowl Cartel Series.
College Football Playoff Would Increase Problems
Should there be four teams? Eight? Sixteen? Wherever a line is drawn, excluded teams will inevitably start clamoring to enlarge the playoffs. That's exactly what has happened with the NCAA basketball, March Madness has grown from eight teams to 65 teams and now is under pressure to expand to 96. Joe Barton's playoff idea turns out to be more of a problem than a solution.
Copyright © 2010 Clarence Page