For every Jabari Parker story of triumph on the basketball court and in the classroom, there’s hundreds, if not thousands of Curie High School examples where the student-athlete’s best interests are forsaken for wins. While it is unusual for entire teams to be forced to forfeit entire seasons and championships, there are countless numbers of student-athletes who are pushed through high school regardless of their academic deficiencies.
Who does society blame when those student-athletes don’t pan out academically or in life?
Who’s really to blame? The answer ranges between parents, educators, coaches, and society as a whole, but the buck should have stopped at the educators and coaches -especially when many of these athletes don’t have the strong families that Jabari has. Now these young men must learn a lesson in adversity the hard way -through being stripped of the victories and championship that they worked hard to earn.
It Didn’t Have to Turn Out This Way
While this isn’t the first or the last time we’ll see an academic scandal play out in high school athletics, it’s totally preventable, but teachers and coaches choose to look the other way. They forsake truly educating these athletes and being real mentors for these young people in exchange for wins. Why? Is it because these coaches and educators are bad people? No, it’s a little bit more complex than that.
Its because these student-athletes (and I use the term loosely) are young, impressionable teenagers who are easily distracted by outside influences who unsolicited advice ranging from how their coaches should treat them to what schools are better for basketball to how much playing time they should receive. Given that coaches have to compete with family members, friends, AAU coaches, and in some cases “street agents” for their athletes’ attention, they hesitate to say no to these young athletes. Their prevailing fear is that their best athletes will transfer to another school and beat the shit out them once their teams meet.
Few high school coaches want to be that guy that kicks their best athlete off the team because of grades. In many instances coaches try to be their athlete’s best friend instead of being their coach and their mentor. As for the public league, let’s just say that there are more than a few head coaches of top teams who lack integrity. Combine that with the culture of pandering to top athletes, it’s easy to for the lines to get blurred when the athlete isn’t going to class or neglecting their studies altogether.
Teachers and administrators share blame in this too. In many instances, they are culprits too because five years from today, they like to brag that Derrick Rose went to their school and that they loved having him in class. No matter the disservice they’re doing to the students, schools love being able to reference previous alumni who are went on to play in the NBA, even if they end up being featured in an updated ESPN 30 for 30:Broke documentary years later.