Back in high school, I could have slept through most of my classes and still received a 'B.' At worst, a 'C.'
(Anything doing with math was not one of those classes, which is why I made Honor Roll and never Honor Society, and while I'm still working and not 10 or so years into my retirement from the Navy.)
Which is why I was a big supporter of academic requirements for athletic ineligibility. If I could maintain eligibility, everyone should be able to do it.
(I once flunked a class - it was a shop class, no big deal - and still had a high-enough GPA to qualify for the Honor Roll, if not for the fact flunking a class made you ineligible for the Honor Roll,)
My academic history notwithstanding, I am firmly on the side of waiving academic requirements for fall sports eligibility.
And in this oddest of sports seasons, I don't understand why Baltimore County needs the permission of the MPSSAA and the state Board of Education in order to waive academic requirements.
The fall sports schedule is entirely self-contained in the county. There won't be any postseason regional and state tournaments, so it's not like Baltimore County will be gaining an advantage by using ineligible players against teams from other counties.
To me, it smells like something I've noticed over decades of covering high school sports: sometimes, the system seems biased against athletes.
A non-athlete starts a fight with an athlete: both are disciplined, but the athlete is also kicked off his/her team, even if they were just defending his or her-self.
An athlete gets into a fight off-campus on a Saturday: they can still get kicked off the their team.
For a lot of students, athletics keeps them engaged in school - heck, for a lot of students, athletics keeps them coming to school.
A big problem nowadays is a trend of declining participation in athletes. Just about every school I cover struggles with numbers in one sport or another.
So why not give these kids a break for one sports season?
Particularly when, by many accounts, remote learning is a fiasco. It's just not working. So why punish the students further for struggling to get good grades under a system stacked against them?
One coach told me (before the state stepped in) that he would accept students whose grades normally wouldn't be good enough, but they wouldn't start over the students who are academically eligible - particularly since there are students that didn't even try, didn't log on to remote learning.
I can understand that. Remote learning is flawed, but you still gotta make an effort by showing up.
And it must be stressed to the athletes this is a one-time deal. When things get back to some state of normalcy, the waive on academic requirements is lifted.
The other reason I support a waiver on academic requirements is I found some of the arguments raised by board members opposed to the motion to be, frankly, insulting.
One board member: if students are already struggling with academics, won't sports take even more time away from their studies? How will they handle both?
The same way generations of student-athletes have balanced academics and athletics, the same way, while in college, I handled my studies, being sports editor for the campus newspaper, and spending 32-40 hours a week working in a 7-Eleven to support myself: no sleep.
Just kidding. You focus and you set priorities. When maintaining eligibility for sports is important, you find time for schoolwork; even if it's just the minimum needed to be eligible.
What have these students had to help maintain focus? A vague possibility sports would return, and the daily grind of dealing with a flawed remote learning system.
Another: athletics has always been a privilege earned though academic achievement.
True; that's why this is intended to be a one-time waiver, during a period of time when the system seems rigged against the student-athletes.
And: "I don't see where we're helping them; excelling in school just to play sports is a terrible idea."
Duly noted. Another terrible idea? Expressing this thought out loud.
And this winner: What about the students who are academically eligible? Won't waiving the requirements take away their incentive to keep doing well in class to keep their spot on the team?
Sigh. First, as stated, it's a one-time deal. Second, while the desire to play sports is a motivating factor to keep grades up, there are many students, even athletes, who just like getting good grades.
It's a competition, you know.