Sports Illustrated recently released a five-part series on the Oklahoma State University football program. Part two of the series focused on the academics of the football players. The section begins by accusing former Oklahoma State coach, and current LSU coach, Les Miles of implying to his players that football was more important than academics. Of course, he denied these claims.
People generally believe that coaches of student-athletes should emphasize how much more important academics are than athletics.
For an average person, I would agree, but it isn’t really fair to criticize Miles for saying what he said to a group of people who all have a chance to one day play professionally.
Many kids grow up dreaming of becoming a professional athlete. According to the NCAA, however, only 0.08 percent of high school football players ever get drafted into the NFL, and only 1.7 percent of college football players get drafted.
These figures show that even the chance of a college football player going pro is slim, which is why Miles is being criticized so much.
Isn’t his job to make them the best football players they can be? Miles is responsible for helping them to excel in football, not for making the other 98.3 percent the best accountants they can be. The players should be responsible enough to work hard in the classroom to make sure they can be successful outside of football.
These figures show that even the chance of a college football player going pro is slim…
There aren’t many stats on what the 98.3 percent go on to do, but like college graduates who didn’t play football, I’m sure some of the football players who graduated are probably doing very well in whatever career they chose.
The athletes who aren’t very successful are really the only reason coaches get criticized for placing emphasis on athletics.
If all athletes went on to do well, then no one would care what Miles said. For those who aren’t doing well, I would never accept the excuse of, “My football coach just put too much emphasis on football.”
Again, that is the coach’s job, to help the players excel in football as much as possible. They aren’t hired to be academic advisors.
Not being a college athlete, it’s easy for me to put emphasis on academics because I will never sign a million-dollar contract to throw a ball. It’s my responsibility to make sure I’m doing my best academically so that I can one day be successful in my career.
This is what we should expect from athletes as well. They should all realize themselves that they may not go pro, and that they should not only focus on becoming a great athlete, but also put work in the classroom.
It isn’t fair to blame a coach for putting too much emphasis on athletics. Instead we should look at it as the player’s responsibility to do their best in the classroom, just like we do any other student.