But at this point, it just feels like that argument is disingenuous. We all know that there are some athletes that have no interest in studying anything but game film, playbooks, and their weightlifting routine. Forcing them into a major they don’t care about won’t change that.
Pargman makes some strong points, especially when you consider that students can major in pursuits like theater or music in hopes of becoming professional performers. It’s extremely difficult to succeed in these fields as well. And those that don’t become professional athletes would be similar to those that go to school to become doctors or lawyers and can’t make the grades to pursue post-graduate work. Those students adjust, so why can’t the wannabe professional athlete?
I think this can work, if altered slightly. Rather than saying an athlete major in football or basketball with the sole intent of becoming a professional athlete, we should view it as that student pursuing some form of work in the field, whether it be as a professional, a coach (at the high school, college, or professional level), a personal instructor, etc. Realistically, all won’t become professionals, but if they’re armed with the knowledge of how to work effectively in the field with those athletes that do make it, they will still have viable work options once they graduate.
In his piece, Pargman goes so far as to laying out a course load for the student who decided to major in a sport. In his recommendation, the heavy course load (focused in areas like public speaking, sports psychology, human nutrition, introduction to sports coaching, etc.) would take place during the junior and senior years. I’d alter it to make sophomores take classes like public speaking, basic financial management, and business law. Most athletes with a realistic opportunity to go professional will probably be leaving college early anyway, so lets ensure that those athletes are armed with the knowledge they’ll need.
For those that will be staying for their junior and senior years, I’d make the course load heavy on coaching philosophies, human anatomy and kinesiology study, and general health education. These courses will be vital to those that will be working in sports in non-professional athlete roles.
The idea of a student-athlete going to school to major in football or basketball sounds far fetched, and seems like we’re quitting on the student before they step foot on campus. But if the curriculum was created correctly, it would help get students that won’t be engaged anyway focused on something they’re truly passionate about. And this would make sure that the courses they take would be beneficial whether they go pro or don’t quite make it.
If we let these young men major in something they actually care about – like every other college student does – then the term “student-athlete” may finally actually mean something.
Follow Stefen Lovelace on Twitter @StefenLovelace