Black Student-Athletes Have More Success In School Than Non-Athletes

Balancing school and sports is easier for African American student-athletes than non-athletes
By: Taren Vaughan

There is often a fear that student-athletes lose sight of what their main focus should be. And that is getting a good education. Yes their athletic performance is important as well, but it does not measure up to their academics. Although this is a concern for many educators and parents, past studies have shown that African American student-athletes are handling both sports and school work quite well.

One study that was done focused on the Graduation Success Rates and the Federal Graduation Rates for NCAA student-athletes. These rates were compared to the GSR and FGR for the entire student body on various campuses. When it comes to these rates for African American student-athletes, the numbers have often been low.

The good news is that things are beginning to change.

Director of TIDES (The Institute For Diversity and Ethics in Sport) Richard Lapchick, found that the GSR for both African American women and men student-athletes increased by 5 %, from the late 90’s to early 2000’s. Five percent may not seem like a significant increase but it is in reference to the number of African American athletes who attend NCAA Division I institutions. Lapchick also went on to say that “African-American student-athletes as a whole graduate at a much higher rate than African-American students as a whole by an eight percent margin (53 percent vs. 45 percent for all African-American students).” –Richard Lapchick.

Interesting isn’t it? A lot of us probably assume that non-student athletes are doing better in school than student-athletes are. That is not always the case.

There are some key things that student-athletes must do in order to maintain their sanity. Student-athletes must be very organized individuals. Juggling your school work and sports can be an overwhelming task to do. The pressure to excel in both can lead a student to put all of their focus on one of the two. This is the point where students’ grades begin to fall. Luckily, the school systems require student athletes to dedicate several hours to their books. Coaches incorporate study hall hours before practice, giving their athletes time to work on their assignments.

It is very possible for African American student-athletes to balance school and sports. All it takes is good time management and preparation. They must also remember to prioritize. Academics should always come first and athletics second. Being surrounded by people who believe in this concept also aid in the athlete’s overall success.

No matter how great the athlete is at what he or she does, they never know what may happen. Injuries may occur that prevent them from ever stepping foot on a court again. Health conditions could affect their play. So many unexpected things can happen to a student-athlete on all levels of sports. But one thing is for sure that if they did well in school, they can still find success outside of athletics.


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