Balancing Academics and Athletics:  What Is Truly Important?


This article focuses on how you can present your views when interviewing for your coaching and teaching position when asked how athletics and academics work hand in hand with each other.  Develop your views on this subject using the following information.

Extra-curricular athletics must always be viewed as a supportive activity to the primary mission of any educational institution.  The primary mission of any educational institution must be academic and personal development of its students.  In public education, the integrity of the academic mission can never be compromised, the future of our students and out society as a whole demands that the molding of the intellectual capacity of all students is central to personal student success.  The role of extra-curricular athletics involves providing opportunities for extended character development through structured athletic competition.

This philosophy is supported by a study conducted by the University of Washington.  This study projected the likelihood of a high school varsity athlete receiving an athletic scholarship to higher education and later moving on to the professional ranks.  This study illustrated the following statistics.  By the way if you have a parent meeting consider sharing this information with them:

59% of all high school varsity football and basketball players have the belief that they will receive a college scholarship upon graduation.

In actuality, 98 out of 100 varsity high school athletes involved in all sports will never play in the college ranks.

Also, only 1 out of 15,000 college student athletes will ever have the opportunity to become a professional athlete in any sport.

For the sport of football only 1 in every 5,200 college players will have the opportunity to become a professional in their sport.

At present, 67% of all players in the National Football League (NFL) do not possess a college degree.

Currently the average playing career in the NFL last only 3.5 years.

The message from these results is clear.  The academic mission is of greatest importance to all students regardless of their god given athletic talents and playing field accomplishments.  Additionally, of all “Top 10” ranked academic students at the high school level, 98% of both boys and girls are involved in 2 or more extra-curricular school activities, annually this points to the importance of extra-curricular activities being in support of positive academic success.

From a personal perspective, and having served over 4,000 student athletes at both the college and secondary level, I can honestly say that we as coaches need to be committed to the academic success of the players and fortunate to work with.  Whether it be team study halls, peer tutoring, academic release time from practice and competition, the future success of the individual student-athlete and the team rests with the academic integrity of the program.

To quote one of my former coaches who inspired me to go to graduate school:

“When you are 40 years old it will not matter how many yards you’ve gained or passes completed.  What will matter is what you can provide for yourself, your family and your community as a productive member of society.”


About the Author of this post:

Jerry Campbell has over 30 years of high school and college coaching experience. He has experience as a head coach, offensive coordinator, and various position coaches. He has written numerous football coaching articles in various publications, is the author of over 30 books on coaching football, and has produced 12 coaching video series. Additionally, he is a nationally sought after speaker on the coaching clinic circuit.

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