Read between the yardlines

There are few college activities that get the whole school together, but when football season arrives, it’s as if everyone is together as one.

College athletes are the center of any college. They run the school. They are the head honchos, and they know it. With all the talent they put on the field, you would expect the same dedication and talent to go into the classrooms.

A recent CNN investigation found “public universities across the country where many students in the basketball and football programs could read only up to an eighth grade level.”

That is terrifying. Think about it: Imagine being in college and not being able to read or write at the level expected of a college student. As much as good college athletes are necessary for universities to thrive, I believe that having a smart college athlete is more important.

While some are very lucky to continue on to professional sports, others are not. So, most should be able to read at a very high standard. It’s almost like these athletes are being failed as they come to college, a place of higher learning and the development of the “whole person.”

The rest of us who are not blessed with athletic skills had to be at a college reading level if not higher and have an easy time jumping into the fray of higher level reading and writing.

Your reading level won’t just affect you in college — having a reading level that’s at a middle school standard will haunt you for the rest your life. Reading is one of the most important skills to have because it dominoes onto other subjects from writing to science. Colleges must commit to educating their athletes to make sure that they are not left behind.

Colleges should care because these young men are going to need these skills in sports, too. While people may not take this issue seriously because it is an insurmountable problem, that’s where they are gravely wrong.

Reading would help with post-game interview skills or even analyzing data. No one wants to be known as a “dumb” college athlete. It’s a stereotype that needs to be broken. Being a college athlete means you should have a good GPA to go along with your ability on the field.

Reading is such an important skill to have and if a college athlete is struggling with a class it’s probably because their reading level is lower than average. NCAA decides to ignore these problems calling these students “unprepared for college.”

Meanwhile, we are left unaware of anything being done to remedy this problem. We are all unprepared for college, but that doesn’t mean there is an excuse for reading levels to be this low among athletes. It’s a scary thought to know that America’s college athletes, known as superhuman, are being left behind by a system meant to protect them.

 

 

Reach the columnist at Tishni.Weerasinghe@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @tishnii