Home > Children, Education > Teen Athletes’ Cry; Do We Have Right to Education?

Teen Athletes’ Cry; Do We Have Right to Education?

Tues June 29, 2010

By MyungJin Lee

Empty seats of teen athletes can be easily found in classrooms. Even during lectures, a majority of them are practicing with other team members instead of participating in classes.

According to Yonhap News, most teen athletes spend four hours practicing on weekdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. They are free at other times, but many players are not returning to their classroom to study and their teachers do not ask them to do so.

“Teachers and parents have never blamed me for poor test results,” said a high school sophomore soccer player who started five years ago. “I just randomly fill in answer sheets on exams. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I studied,” he said.

It’s an undeniable fact that Korea has become a great athletic country with high ranks during the Olympic and World Cup games. However, the social atmosphere forces teen athletes to think that studying is a waste of time. Parents and coaches encourage their children and players to concentrate only on sports to enter university or win competitions. Many student athletes fail to achieve academic goals. Furthermore, they have a lack of friends and skills outside of sports.

A recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Seoul Olympic Sports Promotion Foundation says that 18,086 students specializing in sports in middle and high schools across the country found deteriorating scholastic achievement as they advance to higher grades. 60 percent of athletes in middle schools were in the bottom 20 percent in the national average for test scores. The ratio gets worse in high-school to 78 percent. Only 9 percent of middle school athletes remained in the top 9 percent, dropping to 8.4 percent as they advance to high school.

Ha Tae-ryong, a sports ministry official, said, “Players in high school spend more time polishing up their sports skill than increasing test scores to enter university. Thus, worsening academic achievement is sort of common among students majoring in sports. Government, parents, teachers, coaches and education authorities should take action to set out long-term policy for changing the improving academic environment for teen athletes.”

In contrast to Korea, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in America has delivered an academic improvement program for its students since 2004. During a press conference, James L. Isch, the NCAA’s interim president, said that there was marked improvement in several sports, including men’s basketball and football.

The NCAA introduced the academic-progress rate to gauge college athletes’ performance in the classroom. Teams with academic-progress rates below 925 out of 1,000 can lose scholarships, and scores below 900 can trigger more-severe sanctions, like restrictions on practice time and post-season play.

“We’ve seen steady progress,” said Mr. Harrison, who also chairs the NCAA’s Division I Committee on Academic Performance. “I think that’s wonderful, and it’s a great indicator that coaches and administrators understand the goal of academic reform.”

Categories: Children, Education
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