Academic Challenges Overwhelm Laker Athletes

Wow, things are tough at Lake Regional High School. 

If you read the article, “Eligibility stings LR sports” – October 19, 2006 Bridgton News) you have to wonder what in the name of academics is going on at LR.

The article was on the sports page but in my opinion it belonged on the front page.  Because of the article’s location you are led to think that LR’s serious problem is athletes underperforming in the classroom.  That’s only part of it. 

LR issued progress reports a little while ago and students found out if they were passing or failing in each subject.  For many the news was anything but good.  For the underachieving athlete the news was especially tough because they became ineligible immediately after the progress reports were issued.

So one day the football coach has 48 players and the next day over half were gone.  Other sports lost significant numbers as well.  My math has 24% of the athletes being kicked off their teams. That’s incredible and you can’t help but think that they should have been spending their time studying instead of in sports. 

But consider this, in another piece of bad academic news, 51% (340 students) at LR would have been ineligible for sports after the progress reports came out if they had chosen to participate.  Those are front page numbers!

LR has set a high standard (no failures) for athletic eligibility. Their high standard has claimed a sizable number of victims.  What’s causing this?  Is it the addition of chemistry, physics, and 3rd year math as required subjects the problem? Is the availability of extra help the problem?  Who knows?
Suggesting that athletes miss practice so that they can get extra help must be an idea coming from someone who has never participated in a sport.  Naturally, coaches want their players to do well in the classroom but missing practices is a sure way for a player to find himself/herself on the sidelines when the games are played.  So the borderline academic athlete will usually choose to take his chances in the classroom.  This time around a whole bunch of Lakers got caught.

I am highly in favor of the promised online communication tracking student performance.  With it in place a student/parent will know what grades the student has in a class and his current average plus what assignments are ahead.  He/She will also know the percent value of each assignment.  In other words, everyone will be up-to-date and on the same page.  This will surely help if the LR teachers do their part (keep information up to date) and the parents/students (prepare for class).

Fifty-two Laker athletes are no longer eligible to participate in sports. The story that should be getting the attention of Bridgton/Naples residents, however, is that 51% of the LR student body is underachieving in at least one subject.  

It might be informative if LR released the number of students failing at least one subject at the end of the marking period.  Maybe the 340 students in current academic difficulty will be lowered significantly.  If not, it may become time to hone in on the subjects and teachers who are connected to the enormous number of failures.

( Appeared in the Bridgton News – October 26, 2006 )

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