In the back of Sarah Palin’s “Going Rogue,” there’s a picture of her cross-country team and the caption of “The whole team was on the honor roll.” My track coach was thrilled to announce one year that the varsity team had a 3.7 average GPA.
There is a long tradition of scholar-athletes: people who study hard and also apply themselves to athletics in pursuit of being a well-rounded person, strong in body and mind. The skills that make for a good student make for a good athlete, too. My siblings, who both made the varsity basketball team as freshmen, went outside every single day to shoot hoops; it wasn’t enough for them to be at practice. I did extra math homework if there was a concept I wasn’t getting perfectly, read books several times (not just the assigned one time), and turned in papers that didn’t just scrape by the minimum word count.
So when I read about the UNC athletics scandal, it hurts. Instead of teaching these kids to apply the same dedication to their studies as they apply on the football field, administrators gave them grades for forged work or no work at all – in the best interests of the students, of course.