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Athletics Over Academics?

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As members of the internet age, we are reminded of other people’s success via the constant availability of social media platforms. Whether it be status updates, tweets, or even vines, students are exposed daily to the stresses and successes of their peers. It is a common practice of students to update their status once accepted to a college or university, and this practice is most common among athletes who have committed to play for a sports team whilst attending the school. This phenomenon brings up the question: Do athletes deserve recognition from top schools? Should someone be accepted to Harvard based on their baseball skills, rather than their academic achievements?

It is a commonly held belief that athletes do, in fact, deserve recognition from top schools because their love of the game often translates into a passion that is just as evident as someone who would be accepted to a school for art, music, or even academics. That being said: If AP scholars deserve recognition, then do athletes?

Suffolk County tennis champion Duane Davis states, “I do not think athletes deserve more recognition from top schools from an athletic standpoint. I personally believe that many students go to these top schools because of the great athletic atmosphere and sport life. Universities gain most of their revenue from the sport team’s success as well. Athletes are not more deserving than any other students.” Duane is one of the many who feel that athletics should not define a student’s college experience, and athletics should be viewed as more of a hobby than a career choice.

On the contrary, star soccer player, Josh Koval states, “Yes, athletes do deserve to go to top schools. These athletes put in countless hours perfecting their craft along with studying and schoolwork. An athlete also brings in revenue to the school which most regular students do not. Though they may not have the exact grades to get in, they can still contribute greatly to the school.” Athletes often tend to agree that the passion, dedication, and aggression for a sport translates into a valid excuse for college acceptance, equal to that of academic achievement. Last year alone, the University of Texas was reported by USA Today to have spent $146,807,585 on the NCAA’s expenses, including media, branding and supplies, but earned a total of $165,691,486. The pattern of greater value of revenue over expenses is repeated in most top schools.

Universities tend to scout high school athletes during their junior year, and the scouted students often must maintain a certain GPA throughout the year in order to retain acceptance. It is argued that this adds even more stress onto a student than if said student were to have to apply regularly like non-athletes. Others argue that school is for learning, and despite the large amounts of capital and notoriety that athletics allow top universities, students should be recognized solely for their grades and standardized testing scores.

One could assume that only students who play sports would believe that athletes deserve recognition from top schools, but that is not always the case. Amanda Bentz, varsity softball player and accomplished student believes that, “Athletes donʼt deserve more or less recognition,” and that, “Top schools like well-rounded individuals who can maintain an academic and sports career.” Of course, it depends on the degree of talent of the player, but ultimately most students agree in that colleges should emphasize academics over athletics despite the perks athletic notoriety entails.

So is academic achievement and athletic excellence one in the same when it comes to college admissions? Colleges often offer full scholarships for athletes who excel in a particular sport- and approximately 1% to 2% of undergraduate students receive athletic scholarships a year, which totals to about $1 billion in scholarships per year. The answer will never truly be clear whether or not athletes deserve more recognition and notoriety for their talents than a student who does particularly well in science or math, but hopefully students have a good sense to excel in both if they want to be accepted in a college- considering the fact that most Hills West students excel in both academics and athletics.