College student-athletes have never had it so good.
Since this column has long championed the cause of student-athletes, I applauded both measures. But let’s not stop there. Surely, there’s something else we can do to improve the student-athlete experience.
How about this: Allow them to receive a percentage of gate receipts from their sport.
But there is something else we can do for the student-athlete who already has gained more freedom and money. How about academic credits?
I always have believed athletes should be able to obtain credits for practicing and playing their sport. If you think that is extreme, you never have been a college football player.
Several centuries ago, I graduated from the LSU school of journalism. And I didn’t spend nearly as much time practicing journalism as the athletes I knew did practicing their sport. My guess is they didn’t have as much fun as I did, either.
One semester, I was assigned to cover the two “radical groups” on campus. Both beats were preferable to the football program but a distant second to basketball, which included a tall, thin, floppy-haired guy named Pete Maravich.
My grade in one reporting class was based more on quantity than quality. I received credit for each column inch that was published. And since radical groups craved attention, they had a vested interest in how many column inches I accumulated.
When one member of the Student Liberation Front was arrested, the police allowed him one phone call. He called me, prompting a deadline story for the school paper.
The groups I covered were harmless. Their idea of militant action was boycotting the city bus system or protesting outside a brick company in support of union workers.
I’m sure all my radicals eventually became productive citizens. And if they were ever arrested again – likely in a case of mistaken identity – they called a lawyer, not a reporter.
Sorry for the tangent. I’m just trying to stress how easily students can acquire credits while having a good time – not to mention the adrenaline rush they can get when a source calls them from a police station.
College football players get that adrenaline rush on game day. But what about the other days?
There’s preseason practice, spring practice and off-season conditioning. College football is a fulltime job. There’s homework, too.
What’s harder: cramming for a sports management test or studying video Alabama week? No matter how badly you fail a sports management test, the embarrassment isn’t comparable to missing an assignment that results in an Alabama touchdown.
Better to fail in a classroom of your peers during the week than before millions of onlookers on Saturday.
I’m not arguing that student-athletes should be able to earn a degree in their sport without ever taking a more academically acceptable course. Let’s start with something less extreme.
Why not give football players eight hours credit for a fall semester and another three for the spring? Throw in another credit for summer school.
And make sure those credits are all transferrable to their next school.
John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at: twitter.com/johnad
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Student-athletes deserve academic credit for their sport