When you think of professional athletes, such as football and basketball players, what
usually comes to mind? Maybe itís their outstanding abilities. Maybe itís their
extremely large salaries. Maybe they are your role models and idols. One thing is for
sure, it is definitely not their intelligence. Throughout the years, low intelligence has
been associated with athletes. This stereotype is outdated, and I will show you why.
Most people think of football players as dumb jocks. These people believe that
football players think, feel, eat, and live football. When they arenít at practice or games
they are in the weight room bulking up. Never is a football player pictured studying.
Who has time for school when there are sports? Football requires much more brains than
most would like to admit. When a quarterback drops into the pocket, he must know
where the wide receivers are running so he can throw the ball. The line men must know
who to block so no one hits the quarterback. The wide receivers must know the routes
which they must run, so they can catch the pass from the quarterback. These are not
skills that everybody has. Football players must learn these, otherwise the team does not
For many athletes, athletics is a way to help them get through school. Sports give
them the discipline they need to succeed in school. All athletes are required to maintain
a certain grade point average to be allowed to play. If their grades slip below this mark,
the are ineligible. Coachís are continually pushing players, not only for excellence on the
playing surface, but also for academic excellence. My hockey coach would not even
allow his own son play after getting sub-par grades. Parents like this are not uncommon.
My parents have told me if I donít do well in school, then I wouldnít be allowed to play
sports. Those rules motivated me to keep my grades up.
Without athletics, many student athletes may resort to life on the street, or drugs, instead
of playing sports so they can go to school. Playing professional athletics is the goal of
any athlete. But not many people think about playing sports on the college level. This is
a goal of most athletes. Athletes need to succeed in high school to get accepted into a
college or university. To be accepted to a school one must have good grades, not just an
athletic gift. People hear too much of the student-athletes that are put on academic
probation for their bad grades. Little is said about the students that are getting good
grades. If all athletes received bad grades, everyone would be ineligible, and there would
be no participants in sports. How much fun would watching sports be if it were played
by five foot seven inch Engineering majors?
In the thirteen years I played sports, almost all of my teammates were on the
honor roll. How could that be if athletes are always thinking about sports? Quite
frankly, it isnít true. Most athletes are intelligent. It takes brains to be able to hit a
baseball, ice skate, know where to tackle an opponent, make a three-pointer, or kick a
ball into a goal. There is much more to sports than God-given athletic ability.
I have been an athlete for the majority of my life. I have played hockey, baseball,
tennis, and golf. Hockey was a year-round sport for me. I played continuously through
winter and summer. Playing hockey all of the time did not keep me from getting good
grades. Although five nights out of the week were consumed by sports, I still managed to
be an outstanding student. Iíve received such honors as being an Illinois State Scholar,
National Merit Scholar, and I managed to be accepted into the University of Illinois.
Could someone with low intelligence be able to maintain a rigorous schedule of sports
and school? Most dedicated athletes that I know are exactly the same as me. They study
hard and they play hard. Without doing well in school, people like me would not even be
allowed to play sports. We have set academic goals for ourselves which our parents help
us set by not allowing our grades to slip, or we will not be allowed to compete in sports.
Marco Van Velsen is a student at the Temple University. He is also on the
basketball team. Marco wakes up early every morning for 5:30 a.m. daily practices.
Throughout the year,