ERIC Number: EJ851042
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Reference Count: 0
Coffey, Suzanne R.
New England Journal of Higher Education, v24 n1 p14-15 Sum 2009
Two educations are available to those who are fortunate enough to continue their athletic careers at the nation's colleges and universities. The first kind, the most obvious and most important, is the education garnered when students are challenged to excel, experiment and stretch intellectually. Many faculty colleagues see this principal education as exclusively important. But for college athletes, it's one component of a full education. The other education is that which is also common in college sports. The references: excel, experiment and stretch are all reciprocally significant in the athletics setting. College athletes do not swap their minds for tennis shoes when they enter the gymnasium. The intellectual vibrancy sought after in the classroom is alive and well in the last place faculty would think to look. The fields and courts are humming with good minds processing complex patterns, reacting to variations, listening for cues, unpacking and reassembling the next moves (of the ball, the teammates, the opponents) before they happen. The better the mind, the better the athlete. Faculty colleagues are envious. They covet the passion plainly exhibited in the eyes of an athlete attentively taking in every word during a 30-second timeout. They begrudge the voluntary extra workouts. They envy the edge-of-the-chair eagerness athletes demonstrate in team meetings. They're also jealous of the intensity of the relationships created and sustained, some for decades beyond the athlete's college career. Coaches choose to work with students who question everything, analyze both strategy and training and bring considerable intellectual "joie de vivre" to the field and court. Athletes are perceptive and focused. And they possess the capacity to work hard even when other factors might distract them. Faculty colleagues see this intensity and work ethic in athletes and rightly wish this were expressed in all students in their classrooms. It's up to the athletics community to create the bridges between two educations, to move faculty friends from dismissive to collaborative. After all, to coach is to teach. Successful coaches must master the ability to engage each student regardless of preparation, learning style and capacity. Faculty colleagues and coaches are doing the same work in their discrete disciplines. In this article, the author discusses some adjustments that coaches and athletics administrators (and student-athletes) have to be willing to make to encourage professors to value what happens inside this athletics education.
Descriptors: Cognitive Style, College Athletics, Athletes, Academic Aspiration, College Students, Cognitive Processes, Cognitive Development, Interpersonal Competence, Athletic Coaches, Thinking Skills, College Faculty
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A