MCPS should abandon minimum GPA requirement for student-athletes


Photo courtesy Devlin McCarthy

Varsity football and lacrosse player, junior Devlin McCarthy crams in a quick study session before practice.

The end-of-school bell rings and the average student goes back home to take a nap, eat a snack and leisurely do homework throughout the evening. A student athlete, however, has a two-hour practice consuming the majority of their afternoon and then comes back home sore and exhausted. Without the lack of resources (because practices overlap free tutoring provided by the school) it’s easy for student athletes to experience an increase in anxiety and have their grades slip.

This growing issue is present in all sports and it doesn’t seem like it will be slowing down anytime soon. In an anonymous survey of 30 randomly selected members of the varsity and JV lacrosse teams, 36% of the participants were worried about their eligibility status at the end of the third quarter. On the co-ed golf team of the five randomly selected students, 60% of the athletes said they experienced more anxiety with grades in season compared to out of season.

Based on this data, the GPA requirement for athletes should be abandoned. “I think that MCPS should get rid of the grade minimum because it puts more added stress on athletes and it makes it difficult for them to manage school and a sport. I also think that sports are good for students to be better in shape and that shouldn’t have to be limited for anyone,” sophomore JV football and lacrosse player Matthew Cortes said. 

Cortes brings up a great point with sports helping more students stay in shape as the obesity percentage among students in the US is a staggering 19.3% according to the CDC. With more students participating in sports, they become less likely to become overweight and are more likely to pick up healthy habits that can be carried on for a lifetime.

Not everyone agrees with the removal of the eligibility requirements.  Junior varsity cross country and lacrosse player Jessica Winson said, “I think that academics are the priority and athletes should make sure that the practices and games don’t take away from their school performance.”

Contrary to Winson’s belief, students rely on sports to get scholarships and afford college. The NCAA has provided scholarships for more than 180,000 students and provided over $3.6 billion in 2021.

Grade minimums are simply barriers to entry. “I think that the eligibility requirement shouldn’t be a thing because kids tend to give up and not come to school or do work when they can’t get good grades and they are discouraged that this barrier is keeping them from competing,” senior varsity lacrosse player Reza Abediyeh said.

Although the grade eligibility requirements affect all MCPS sports, there is a disproportionate number of ineligible athletes on boys’ team sports compared to girls and individual sports. The boy’s basketball team addressed this by having the coaches frequently check in on students and motivating the team members by announcing grades in front of the whole team.  The coaches on the boys’ lacrosse team give frequent reminders to players and try to provide academic resources if the players need.

Furthermore, because of the stress and anxiety that the eligibility requirement imposes, MCPS should amend the eligibility requirement in an effort to make athletics more accessible for students.