How Collegiate Sports Is Tainted By Chicanery And A Host Of Moral Dilemmas

How Collegiate Sports Is Tainted By Chicanery And A Host Of Moral Dilemmas

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That collegiate sports is tainted by chicanery and a host of moral dilemmas is nothing new. Rarely does a week pass without some embarrassing deviance being uncovered and scrutinized by the ever-vigilant news media. A steady stream of scandalous disclosures depicting illicit communications and relationships among athletes, agents, and coaches, not to mention forced resignations, expulsions, and sanctions, reveals deep dysfunction in college athletics.

Countless published articles, letters to the editor, and essays have railed against those ethical violations for decades in well-intentioned efforts to provide solutions. A recent investigation by The Chronicle 's Brad Wolverton revealed a host of quick, cheap, and easy academic credits available to athletes in danger of losing their eligibility to play.

What bothers me as a retired academic with decades of service­—and as an avid college-sports fan to boot—is an issue that may be integral to a good portion of such travesties.

Why do we impose upon young, talented, and serious-minded high-school seniors the imperative of selecting an academic major that is, more often than not, completely irrelevant to, or at least inconsistent with, their heartfelt desires and true career objectives: to be professional athletes?

Acquisition of athletic skills is what significant numbers of NCAA Division I student athletes want to pursue. And this is undeniably why they 've gone to their campus of choice. Their confessions about their primary interest are readily proclaimed and by no means denied or repressed. These athletes are as honest in recognizing and divulging their aspiration as is the student who declares a goal of performing some day at the Metropolitan Opera or on the Broadway stage. S...


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...be analogous to what undergraduate musicians and theater students do. They study their craft and display their acquired skill before campus audiences.

In the model I 'm advocating, college athletes would truly be preparing for a well-defined, societally approved professional future. Their degree upon graduation would be a B.A. in sports performance. Their required coursework and laboratory experiences would relate to future professional needs, expectations, and demands.

Those unsuccessful candidates for professional sports positions­—those who are not signed—would deal with their thwarted dreams in the same way that rejected medical- and law-school applicants and turned-down musicians and actors would. They would keep trying or progress to alternative careers. Most significant of all, what I propose would be infinitely more honest than the charade that now prevails.

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