Should there be ineligibility rules for student-athletes?: Yes

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Photo by Erik Kleinbussink

The varsity football team is led by Head Coach Ivan Hicks (pictured here in all red), who has implemented mandatory study hall before practice.

According to the NCCA, only 7.3% of high school football players go on to play in the NCAA at any division. This means for the other 93%,  high school is the end of their playing time and they will have to use their education to pursue their careers. Currently, Montgomery County eligibility rules state that to be eligible for extracurricular activities, a student needs to have a 2.0 GPA average and no more than one failing grade for the marking period, which is not a difficult task for the majority of students. However, staying eligible has been a prevalent problem with teams around the county and is something student-athletes struggle with.

We make sure to put academics first and make practice times as convenient as possible to leave time for studying or getting work done.”

— Ralph Bernardo

Giving students the ability to miss class and fail every test, which is what ineligible students tend to do, sends a poor message to younger kids about the importance of school. It also encourages those falling students to slack off in other aspects of life, such as work or home responsibilities, and enforces detrimental habits that do not prepare them for a real-life job. ¨We make sure to put academics first and make practice times as convenient as possible to leave time for studying or getting work done,¨ varsity boys’ lacrosse Head Coach Ralph Bernardo said.

As well as preparing students for the future, the eligibility rules also incentivize athletes to go to class and help them stay appealing to college recruiters. The NCCA requires a 2.0 GPA to stay eligible to play sports because they understand how important grades are and how success mainly comes from the classroom. “The eligibility rules definitely help me stay motivated to come to class and stay on track with my assignments, otherwise I would have a hard time staying on top of things,” senior Reza Abediyeh said.

It can be argued that the rules need to be lessened because of the amount of stress student-athletes go through and how they don’t have as much time to complete assignments or study. However, they are called student-athletes for a reason, which means school is prioritized and when they sign up for a sport they acknowledge that the sport is a time-consuming commitment. “I know how much effort and time varsity sports take, but that’s why I have a routine I follow where I can manage my time properly to get school work done,¨ junior Tyler Cosgrove said.

All in all, there should be eligibility rules for student-athletes to meet because it prepares them for real life and makes school a priority. The football and lacrosse teams have both become proactive about the eligibility problem and have implemented systems to help, such as mandatory team study hall or suspensions from playing time in games for not being eligible. “Sports aren’t forever and they can only take you so far, but a diploma will be valuable anywhere you go in life,” Bernardo said.