I have always admired the ancient Greeks. They had many brilliant minds and great thinkers who gave us the basics of democracy and so much more. Among them Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Parmenides.
They also gave us the Olympic games, the first in 486 BC. They were being invaded by the Persians but before they put an army together to fight the Persians, they finished the game. They also performed the first games in the nude. All males, of course.
I tell you this because the Greeks had what appears to be an equal appreciation for the mind as well as the body. I have noticed recently the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is considering paying college athletes. I have long thought many problems would be eliminated if they were paid. Allow me to explain.
Not all of us are intelligent enough to earn a college degree. A high IQ is a gift and college is a perfect place to use this gift. But a large number of us humans do not have that kind of intelligence but many have the body, the speed, the quickness, the strength, and the overall physical ability to perform great feats on the football field, the basketball court, the baseball field, the track, and many other athletic endeavors.
And yet we punish this group by making them compete in the classroom with those who have high IQs. I don’t think the early Greeks saw it that way.
Major universities are pulling in millions of dollars, exploiting the talents of their athletes while making them also compete in the classroom, for the most part, against those who have a much higher degree of intelligence.
Should we have those high IQ students compete on the athletic fields against the athletes? Not quite fair you say?
These athletes bring a great deal of publicity — and money — to their schools. They should be in a program that will give them the necessary things we all got from our college life, much of which is not found in the class rooms.
When I think of my college years, I hope I developed into a responsible citizen because of my association with my fellow classmates, and I am the person I became due mostly to what I learned outside of the classroom. I matured during those years. I can’t say enough about what they did for me.
Here is, simply put, my thoughts.
Do not force a great athlete to compete in the classroom for the same reason we do not force a great student to compete on the athletic field.
And pay them an income due to the fact their athletic performance is bringing lots of dollars and a great deal of publicity to the school. If they wish, they can earn a diploma, or maybe a certificate of accomplishment.
The early Greeks understood this. It can and should be done.
Tony Lamke is a former coach. He has researched the history of Clinton County sports and writes a periodic column for the News Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.