Dave Armstrong

Senior Student-Athletes Should Be Hailed for Finishing What They Started

by Dave Armstrong February 06, 2009 in Men's Basketball

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When exactly did we come to the place in collegiate sports where we had to, in some small fashion, defend senior student-athletes?

It seems around every corner someone has to explain the value of a college degree…..to argue in favor of players staying for four or five years to complete both their eligibility and education.

I wholeheartedly agree with Seth Davis when he writes, “he has figured out that the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know.”  I guess I don’t know much on this topic.  But here’s what I do know – there is great value in being a senior.

It’s an argument easily made, unnecessary even.  If we’ve fallen so far in society where we have to make a case for a college education, then we have seriously failed.  The system is flawed, and is in need of fixing. 

The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award is just the ticket.  It’s an emphasis on an intrinsic value in college sports that too often goes unrecognized.  As Blair Kerkhoff wrote in an earlier blog, “a return for all the right reasons, that is commitment, loyalty and just plain college fun.” 

In my over two decades of covering collegiate sports, I’ve obviously seen many changes.  Some of them are good and some not so good.  I have no problem with the student-athletes who are so gifted as to achieve success at a professional level long before their senior year.  But too often we laud the successes of these individuals over the accomplishments of those who have put in the hard work on the playing field and in the classroom. 

And so I, like Mr. Kerkhoff, applaud the NCAA for reminding us each year that, “there are over 400,000 student-athletes, and most will be going pro in something other than sports.”  If that’s a throwback to the days of yore, well so be it.  It needs to not only be said, it needs to be shouted from the rooftops.  With exclamation points! 

The student-athletes in our country need to know there is great honor in a collegiate career that includes completing their athletic eligibility, earning a degree and being involved in the community.  These young men and women serve as role models for all the right reasons, and their accomplishments should take center stage. 

We all love to cheer those plays in sports that bring us to our feet as we say “Wow!”  But I also like to cheer those that have the determination and tenacity to achieve a much higher and loftier goal of finishing what they started.  I understand, but tire of the one and done’s.  I’ll never tire of seniors who stand proud.

We can all stand with them and say a collective “Wow!”