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With March Madness well underway, most of us have seen the student-athlete commercial about student-athletes performing better academically than those that are simply students. But is this true for ALL students and ALL student-athletes? Not exactly.
According to an exploratory study on www.AthleticInsight.com, student athletes at the college level face higher levels of stress than do their counter-parts. Student athletes reported having less time for sleep, heavier pressures and demands, little time for themselves and more relationship problems than regular students.
Meanwhile, students had higher stress levels when it came to making important life decisions, focusing on their education and social pressures. In the past, athletes had higher stress levels in terms of academic performance but current studies suggest that athletes fare just as well as students.
Cynthia Dallas, who states, “think we’re just a bunch of dumb jocks?” at the end of the commercial, is an advocate for student-athletes. Dallas, a former Divison-1 basketball player, claims, “A lot of people just assume I can’t string a coherent sentence together because I played sports, and they’re very wrong.”
But what is the direct correlation between being dumb and playing sports? While the NCAA claims it’s a stereotype of society, statistics speak otherwise. NCAA President, Mark Emmert states, “NCAA student-athletes, particularly African-American males, are graduating at a higher percentage than their counterparts in the general student body in almost every category,” and “In a 10-year time frame that begins after high school, nearly 90 percent of student-athletes graduate.”
However, research from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution has found that “college student-athletes actually have lower SAT scores than that of the general student body.” In fact, male athletes at the college level had on average, a score of 200 points lower on the SAT than male students, according to the New York Times.
While the NCAA boasts about higher graduation rates and doing better than non-athletes, a survey that they themselves conducted suggests differently. While the commercial claims that African-American males that are athletes have a higher chance of graduating college, the NCAA’s research contradicts that fact.
In 2011, the NCAA revealed male-students athletes (regardless of nationality) consider themselves athletes before students and spend more time on their athletic performance than their academic performance. Additionally, male college football player’s graduation rates across the nation are 16% below the general student population graduation rate while male college basketball players are 25% below.
Former NCAA President Myles Brand wanted to bring about change for student-athletes and their futures by mandating a reform for Division-1 schools by raising the bar for the eligibility to play. The Academic Progress Rate known as the APR requires that student-athletes must complete 40% of their degree by the end of their second year, 60% by the end of their third year and 80% by the end of their fourth year. The APR is measured on a scale of 1,000 and if a school falls below a 900, then there will be consequences from the NCAA.
Regardless of the commercial, or the contradicting statistics of the NCAA’s reports, those are not the facts we should be looking at. As they boast about African-American male athletes having a higher graduation rate than non-athletes, the bottom line is this; African-American males are more likely to go to prison than they are to go to college and in this country, “33% of black males between 18 and 24 get arrested” (www.best-basketball-tips.com).
So before one can become an NCAA student-athlete, these are the numbers that need overcoming with integrity, discipline and perseverance in order to give these students an opportunity for a promising future. Being a student-athlete is a privilege and with that privilege, being a student must ALWAYS comes first.