Type: Analysis
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There is no doubt that academics play an important role in the future of a person. However, it is not true that academic excellence is all that a person requires in order to be successful in life. There are persons who are not as endowed as the rest in terms of analytical minds. On the contrary, such students may be endowed with much talent that can be of great help to them in future. This reality of life has been discovered by educators as well as developmental psychologists. Consequently, it is usually recommended that all educational institutions focus not only on the academic but also on extra-curricular activities such as sports, music, dance, arts and the like. Actually, in some cases, these activities are deliberately entrenched into the curricula as co-curricular activities; which means that they are part of the school program. Perhaps this explains why almost all the schools and colleges have physical education sessions. However, although clear distinction exists, the curricula do not provide a formula for micro-managing the actual implementation of co-curricular activities. Specifically, there exists immense debate on whether there should be preferential treatment of college athletes with regard to class work and passing. According to Schrotenboer, special “˜admits’ are “˜students accepted at universities even though their grades or test scores don’t meet the school’s regular academic admission standards’. While some authorities claim that this is necessary, the other side of the divide does not support the idea. This essay seeks to explore this debate further by scrutinizing the pros and cons of treating college athletes in a special way in relation to academics. In other words, it seeks to expound on the reasons as to why each of the two opposing sides give for their stance. This will be followed by an analysis of the results or reasons in which the essay proposes a viable formula that could be followed in settling this issue once and for all. Although college athletes make a valuable contribution to the school and the country at large, academic excellence should not be sacrificed at the expense of performance in athletics.


The importance of athletics cannot be overlooked. Athletics plays a very central role in promoting a country’s image and pride at the international level. In the same way, it puts the college at an admired position in the regional or local competitions. There are usually a number of events that breed pride to the college or country. These include, for instance, the Olympics, World University Games and others. In order to coordinate all these activities, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) has been mandated with the responsibility of ensuring the free flow of events without much collision with the academic calendars and without straining colleges with poorly planned competitions. Moreover, the association is faced with the same dilemma as some of the colleges are. Following the time these students take in training and exercises, some professors see it wise to lower their pass marks so that they may have a fair ground when competing with others. Although this may appear a valid point, it has elicited a lot of debate both from the local as well as international factions, athletics bodies and general populace.

The above precedent that college athletes should be preferentially treated has equally led to much debate over the matter. One of the cons of such a preferential or special treatment is that it could lead to resistance from other students who are not necessarily athletes (Umplett 31). They may feel sidelined since after devoting all their time in studies or books, some students would have their grades or pass marks lowered in the name of athletics. If this happens, what would be done for those other sportsmen and women playing other games and sports such as football, basketball, soccer, hockey, baseball and so on? Does it also mean that they would have their pass marks reduced? In other words, athletics is not the only sport thus there may be no need for special treatment of athletes.

College time is usually limited. It may be perhaps four years, five years or a few years. A student athlete would have more time as a professional athlete as opposed to the little and precious time in college that is divided into other academic and co-curricular activities. Therefore, college students should firstly consider their studies as opposed to other sports since the latter can be done after school. In other words, special treatment of college students should not be implemented because there is a time set for that by the NCAA. This opposition to special treatment of college athletes is based on the fact that each and every student has a unique talent that is not tapped. If each talented student were to be exempted from academic performance, then it means that academics will be relegated only to a few people. Further, there are also logical reasons as to why college athletes should not be treated in any special way. By way of explanation, if college athletes are preferentially treated towards academics, then it calls for special treatment of those students who are academically endowed when it comes to things that they are not endowed in such as sports or games. This kind of exchange could cause a lot of confusion and possible disorder. Against this background, therefore, college athletes should not be treated in any better way than other students, because the latter also have their talents.

The fact that college athletes should not be preferentially treated could be backed up by many other explanations. College education should be able to accord each student with holistic growth in all fields. According to Nafziger and Ross (266), offering special treatment to such students would be an indirect way of pointing out to the students as well as the entire society that some professions are more important than others. That cannot be true at all. Academics is as important as sports and vise versa. Doing such a thing would also be an indirect or silent allusion by the professor that he does not necessarily believe that his profession, teaching, should be specially considered in other sectors of total development of a person. While it is true that some professions pay better than others, this is no cause to demean the other professions. The basic rule should be a situation in which students are encouraged to excel in both spheres. In an attempt to be winners in each of the categories, students are able to realize where they are best suited. However, any educational policy that promulgates special treatment of college athletes would naturally make students to want to become athletes in fear of academics that involves thinking and not physical strength.

In a bid to expound on why academic excellence is very important, Petina observes that

“That many college athletes are poorly prepared for life after college is something that few will dispute. Some experts have gone as far as saying thatmostcollege stars are unprepared for anything but a professional sports career that only two to three percent of them will ever achieve”.

Put in other words, it means that since the athletics field is very competitive, there is a need for all students to have a skill that no person can take away from them. On the contrary, an athletics title could be snatched from a person thus leaving such an athlete frustrated. With a skill, such an athlete is able to find another way of life and subsistence. Therefore, there should be no special treatment of college athletes with regard to class work because academic excellence is very important.

The so-called special treatment of college of athletes should not be encouraged because wherever it has been tried, the results have been disappointing. Special treatment of college sports persons, although was done in good faith, led to disastrous results and untamed behaviors of drinking and other social maladies such as rape. To illustrate this, Dion writes that

“˜Virginia Tech was sued in 1996 by a former student claiming she was raped in her dormitory by two members of the university’s football team. The University of Nebraska was sued by a former student who alleged that a former Cornhusker football player sexually assaulted her twice in a residence hall in 1991′.

If this is the result of special treatment, then there should never have been such a treatment in the first place. In fact, the concept of special treatment may send a wrong signal to the young students who would have wished to pursue other careers as opposed to what they are enticed to pursue.

Special treatment may also be a bad idea if it continues to make college students becomes irresponsible citizens. A study entitled “˜Colleges Athletes binge drink more often reported that’ had this to report;

“˜Findings from the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study indicate that college athletes binge drink and suffer alcohol-related harmful consequences at a higher rate than do college students who are not athletes.The first national look at binge drinking behaviors among college athletes appears in the January issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.According to the study, male athletes binge drink at a rate 16 percent higher than that of male non-athletes, while female athletes binge drink at a rate 19 percent higher than that of female non-athletes’

Special treatment of students in college sports discourages them from academic pursuit and hard work. For instance, instead of going for tuition, college athletes, who have been specially treated, are likely to prefer a night out. As earlier pointed out, this may continue to drag the performance of the students backwards as well as the overall performance of a college that has such many students, that is students who are involved in athletics. The other con of special treatment is the fact that it is inherently discriminatory. By treating a group of students in a particular way, the authorities are sending a signal that the ones who are treated so have something that the others do not have. This may breed negative feelings from the other members of the same community. This may also lead to mental and psychological dispositions to both the specially treated and those relegated. To the latter, they may feel stigmatized while the former may begin to boast of their performance. This kind of polarity may not always be healthy for a college that should ideally be an icon of national unity.

Perhaps the major pro is the fact that the popular vote is for the idea that the authorities take a deliberate step to promote talent across the country. This is what may be equated to incentives to take up particular activities in which the government promotes for national pride in international competitions. Moreover, no government or authority should promote one side at the expense of the other. All sectors should be promoted in an equal measure, unless a particular sector contributes more to the Gross Domestic Product of a country or overall performance of a college over others. If that is the case, then it means that the academic sector should be promoted more than the sports since the former is the backbone of any country’s operations.

Critical Review of the Reasons

A closer scrutiny of the reasons for or against the special treatment of college athletes could help in a better understanding of the issue. Although it appears that the reasons against special treatment are more than those for it, what happens on the ground is exactly the opposite. With the rising levels of competition, colleges are willing to offer special treatments for students who excel in sports such as athletics. It begins with the admissions. During admissions, some colleges make it clear that students with outstanding performances in, for instance athletics would get academic waivers. This is just but a way of motivating them to join their institution. Consequently, due to the initial goal of admitting them, the institutional authorizes, such as heads of departments, would not be very strict on the academic performance of the student athletes.

Looking at the results, it seems that those that are for special treatment are purely economic while those that are against it are more objective. With regard to the latter, the proponents are concerned with the holistic development of the student including the academic and physical. The proponents of the special treatments side of the debate are purely concerned with self interests either of the colleges or for the students who are enjoying the special treatments.


This paper was geared towards exploring the question whether college athletes should receive special treatment. It began by explaining the contexts within which sports and academics operate. It was realized that college students are required to undergo holistic formation in terms of the mind and the body. However, some colleges appear to focus more on the sports component and leave out or insist less on the academics. A closer scrutiny showed that such colleges are mainly interested in improving their sports profile. As a result, they treat such students in special ways such as admitting them even if they do not meet the minimum requirements. On the contrary, the opposing views posited that colleges should not treat athletes in a special way because it would be an indirect way of demeaning other professions. The other strong point that was in opposition of special treatment was based on the irresponsibility of the athletes whenever this special treatment was done. These habits include lots of drinking as well as other destructive practices like rape. In the final analysis, it is proposed that colleges focus on holistic development of students and equal promotion of all professions as opposed to special treatments.

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