Student Athletes Should Not Receive Special "Bill of Rights" Protection

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | For student athletes at USC, UCLA, UC Berkeley and Stanford, Senate Bill 1525 may change their futures. The bill, scheduled for the Assembly on June 27, is nicknamed the "student bill of rights" because it seeks to allow athletes to keep scholarships even if injured, to provide life skills, health insurance and financial workshops. It would also allow student athletes to transfer schools, keeping their scholarships with them. At this time, other schools would only be affected if their media revenue exceeds $10 million.

As a parent of a soon-to-be college student and a UC Berkeley alumni, I'm opposed to preferential treatment for students due to athletic eligibility. Students should be accepted on merit first, talent second, and admissions officers need to do their best to ensure that students will be successful at their studies in order to graduate. Kids who are plucked out of high school athletic prep programs without the GPA, test scores, extracurriculars or work ethic needed to thrive in a top four-year college should find another place to study. Athletes should not receive special admissions, course registration, or financial incentives.

Any time college scholarships and student athletes are discussed, the public takes sides. The creator of the Bill, Senator Alex Padilla, feels that athletes should be considered students first, athletes second, and not merely as money makers for big time college athletic programs.

Opponents to the bill, such as Larry Scott, commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference, believe that such a "bill of rights" should apply to all schools, not just the four Pac-12 colleges, to keep all schools on an equal level.

The real issue here is the twisted sense of expectation about what a college is for: education. With decreased governmental funding for education in our country, universities need to look for moneymakers. In the United States, sports make money. When grads see their alma mater winning football conferences and producing professional athletes, they donate money.

I'd like to see more public funding instead, creating a level playing field for non-athletes to succeed in programs, too. Our country needs to produce more educated minds, not more highly paid athletes.

Jennifer Wolfe is a mom to a tween and a teen, as well as a middle school teacher in California. She has degrees in elementary and secondary education and has taught for 21 years.

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