GPA requirement for sports helps students shine
December 26, 2016
It is often portrayed in famous high school movies that jocks only care about their sport and popularity, but the reality is far from it. According to an article in the Star Tribune, 99% of the senior athletes that attended Minneapolis Public Schools graduates from high school. Student athletes in Minneapolis have to meet the GPA requirement that is set at 2.0 in order to continue playing their sport. South athletes are on top of their performance both in school and on the field.
Over the years there have been controversial opinions about the GPA requirements for student athletes. Some say it’s a motivation and some claim it’s taking away the real meaning of what school is for.
Having this requirement might result in students not going to school to learn, but rather to meet a certain point and play a sport. Some would respond that having this requirement helps keep students in school, and if it weren’t for the requirement the students might not even be in school.
“Not everyone is motivated by academics, not everyone cares about their grades…I think if a lot of students didn’t have sports then maybe they wouldn’t be going to school at all, even if they are only here to play sports, and they are only keeping their grades up so that they can keep playing sports,” said Tori Tomlinson, the varsity volleyball coach at South. “That’s better than not doing either of those things.”
Tori Tomlinson works at the Check and Connect office during school hours. She has been coaching for seven seasons, and the two seasons have been at South. Tomlinson coached in Oregon for three years and then South St Paul high school for another two years before coming to South. She was a student-athlete herself when she was in high school and college.
Even though the stress level for school is high enough especially during finals season, the student-athletes at South are putting in as much effort as they can into their academics. Sports are known for being healthy and getting students fit but for some people, it might mean a little more than that. Sports are the places where they build their friendships, it’s where they got to know their schools and most importantly it can be a counseling tool.
For many students, school work, social life, and life in general can be really stressful and overwhelming, but student athletes have the privilege to take out every worry they have in their minds and do what they love for a couple of hours each day. Practices and games are the highlights of their days.
“It was a good stress relief too. As hard as it was managing your time, at the same time you can really have a bad day of school and then you get to play a sport for a couple of hours to get your frustration out and be active instead of going home and moping,” said Tomlinson.
On the other side, let’s not forget the hard work that student athletes put in to stay on top of their sports and school. From late night games to two-hour practices, students have to find time in their day to do school work.
“It’s kind of hard actually, because you have games and then you get home at like 9:30 at night and then you have done an hour of homework and then you still have to be able to get enough sleep, which is…it’s a lot,” said senior athlete Rose Lutz. “If we have a game then I will just try to do my homework during JV and freshman team games or otherwise I will just do it after practice.”
Lutz has been successful in both school and sports. She plays varsity for both volleyball and basketball. She has been an athlete since in high school since she was a freshman and has learned many ways to balance her time so it would fit her sports and school work.
“I think it’s important for students to maintain a 2.0 GPA cause it’s the bare minimum, I mean it’s a C+,” said athletic director Brett McNeal. “But I also think that what we are trying to communicate to students is that they are student athletes, you are a student first, you just happen to participate in extra curricular activity.”
McNeal is the Athletic Director at South this year. He was previously the athletic director at Edison high school in northeast Minneapolis. McNeal played basketball throughout high school and college (division one). He also has experiences with coaching at many schools.
Studies by the University of Kansas showed that student-athletes attended school with a higher percentage than non student-athletes. If students want to meet the required GPA then they have to attend their classes and actually engage in their lessons.
In the Minneapolis School district, 99% of the student athletes graduate as opposed to 64.3% overall graduates in high school. These studies show that even though all the doubts with the stress level for student athletes they are still having graduation rates near perfect.
Playing sports have helped students in addition to just their academics grades. It helps them connect with the school, be more involved. “It’s something I always liked to do, it’s part of my life now, I guess I wouldn’t really know what I would do without sports and I think it’s helped me make friends,” explained Lutz.
The final big advantage that students who participate in sports get to learn how to deal with multiple responsibilities. It prepares them for what they have to do once they are outside of high school and while in high school too.
“I have gotten better at time management, especially during my junior year when I had like two hours of homework, [skills that she learned from being a student athlete] definitely helped me get my work ethic done because I had to be doing homework anytime I was not doing sports, I guess now senior year when I have less homework than when I did last year, it carried over the work ethic,” Lutz said.