Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Making the grade

by Laura Michaels, DI editorial writer

Under a new rule completed by the state Legislature Monday, Iowa high-school athletes will now be required to do something that should have been demanded of them all along: pass all their classes.

With the approval of the state's first change to athletics eligibility since 1992, student-athletes who have one failing grade at the end of the semester will be ineligible to compete for the next four weeks of the following semester. This change has been a long time coming and demonstrates to the public Iowa's commitment to education.

As someone who played two sports and trained year-round, I can say, with firsthand experience, that it can be tough to manage your time, but when something is important to you, you find a way. If high schools have any hope of preparing students for college, then expectations must be set at a level where students must work to reach them. Participating in sports is a privilege, something that must be earned; student-athletes will appreciate their opportunities more when they actually have to work for them.

What disturbs me most are those who oppose the stricter rules. If all that schools expect is substandard work, then that is all they will receive. Schools must be committed to the duel responsibility of educating students and providing them the opportunities to succeed in athletics. Yes, there are student-athletes who simply are not academically minded; however, these students should not just be allowed to pass through the system because they can play sports.

Clearly, student-athletes know the value of hard work - they just need to direct some of that work to the classroom.

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