Friday, 21 October 2016 10:23

“No Pass, No Play”

I’m sure parents have seen this time and again. Their children seem more interested in their sport than their schoolwork. Sports can have that domino effect on a child. It cannot only serve as motivation to boost their academic standing but also help them develop socially from the daily interactions with their teammates. For those teens that do well in school playing on a sports team can benefit them in regards to their organization. Their sport season forces them to exhibit better time management. They learn how to schedule time to fit in each practice and game while still fitting in time for all of their schoolwork and social life. If they find themselves with too much spare time on their hands they often times slack off because they aren’t sure what they should do with all this newly found spare time. Some sports teams require a minimum grade point average in order for the athlete to be an active participant. If the student finds himself or herself below that grade point average threshold, their sport becomes an extra motivation. If the athlete does not meet the grade point average they will not play. It’s as simple as that. The sport is the incentive. Either the athlete maintains good grades to play a particular sport, or the athlete maintains grades in the hopes of qualifying for a potential college scholarship. When does the “no pass, no play” philosophy become overbearing for students? In my experience as a coach I have seen parents use grade maintenance as a burden on their child’s shoulders. However I do not believe that it is an effective method in molding a successful student athlete. Maintaining good grades can serve as one connection between a coach and their players. The coach can serve as a bridge between their athletes and their teachers. They can serve as that middleman when their athlete does not want to approach a teacher directly. I believe that before a parent should consider disallowing their child to participate in sports due to lackluster grades they should consider the effect that it will have on the team as a whole. If one member of the team is academically ineligible, it puts the entire team in jeopardy. It is essentially punishing athletes who are already eligible. Most schools have rules in place that address the situation and the student athletes not only have to get their grades up to par somehow without any type of embarrassment. “No Pass/No Play” is designed to motivate high school students to pass every class, or temporarily be suspended from school-sponsored extracurricular activities, like sports teams. “No pass” means no sport, no drama, no band, no nothing, for students with failing grades. The idea is self-explanatory. If you don’t have passing grades you aren’t allowed to represent your school as a member of an athletic team. Texas was the first state to enact No Pass/No Play into law, based on recommendations from a 1984 commission on school reform led by Dallas businessman H. Ross Perot. Texas later amended their rule, exempting some high level classes from “no pass”, and cutting the “no play” period to 3 weeks – just in time to get a player back on the field during football season. Eventually the No Pass/No Play spread like wildfire from Texas to the rest of the nation. Sixteen states had No pass/No play rules in place by 2007. Since that time a total of 32 states had some type of conditional eligibility for extracurricular activities. For example, in Maryland, local school boards decide eligibility based on students’ academic progress toward graduation. The idea has various pros and cons. Each student learns in his or her own way whether it’s on a field or in a classroom. I have had student athletes who came to school because they’re on a team. Is this a wrong incentive for these kids? No! It’s a motivation and the stimulation to succeed, to get them to come to school. Teenage athletes are motivated because of their sports. It gives them a chance to not only be amongst their friends, but a chance to succeed in a different arena besides a classroom. This carrot for good grades to play generally has great influence on the student athlete. If the student has the incentive to do well in the classroom, in order to play, I see nothing wrong with that. The reality is that parents, teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, and, yes, teammates can all encourage the importance of good academic standing as part of the involvement in sports, and to be part of the team. We all must step forward without being overbearing in our encouragement to get the student athlete motivated to keep good grades. It’s about individual responsibility to one’s self and the allegiance to the team to earn good grades. If not for the individual success of the athlete, their success that will come after hanging up their uniform.
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