Education comes first

So here we are, middle of November—crunch time for those students taking exams in bio-chemistry, calculus, and English-lit.
It’s also a time when hockey players, figure skaters, and, in some cases, football players are juggling their intense practice and game schedules to fit into their exam time-table. Or should I say, fitting their exams into their game schedule?
Whatever the case may be, it seems to me that some sports, especially hockey, are overriding the importance of education.
I know that when most serious athletes are cramming for the math mid-term, they’re probably thinking: Right, because I’m sure when I’m playing for the Calgary Flames, Coach is going to call a time-out, whip out his white board, scribble a calculus equation down, and ask for a show of hand as to who knows the answer.
Of course not. However, what do you do when the time-out is up, Bertuzzi’s cousin hits you from behind, and it’s literally game over—for your hockey career?
Rely on the Grade-A education you received during your minor hockey career? Probably not, if your education requirements were anything like the expectations being enforced, or not enforced, today.
Take Fort Frances High School, for example. Players on the Muskie boys’ hockey team are required to maintain a 55 percent average in order to stay on the team. Provided each player is passing all his courses, still maintaining a 55 average, and has no specific complaints from teachers, let the games continue.
However, if the player happens to be failing a course, or two, the teacher, coach, and player will create a contract allotting a certain amount of time for the individual to bring their grade back up to at least a pass.
In the meantime, he can play.
But once the buzzer goes on that contract, he must be passing all of his courses and his average must sit at no less than 55 percent.
Are you kidding? Good luck getting into the school for dumb jocks with that average, let alone a school with any sort of prestige or reputation.
Please, no hate mail—I’m not calling the Muskies dumb jocks and I’m sure most of them exceed their expectations when it comes to education. But what happens to the guys who can’t motivate themselves to do well, or don’t have any expectations set by their parents?
This is how I see it. In a case such as this, it should be required that the teacher, student, coach, and parents of the player get together to discuss a strategy that works for the individual.
Parents need to step in and set consequences of their own. If need be, a tutor should be provided by the school for these young athletes to ensure comprehension of the material being taught.
Because let’s face it, a test can be passed and an assignment submitted without the person having any idea if it was math, science, “King Lear,” or “Death of a Salesman.”
The point is—anything can happen. As such, have something to fall back on because to rely on a pro hockey career to support you the rest of your life is like playing with fire.
Chances are you’ll get burned.

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