Raising MCPS GPA thresholds serves athletes off the field

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Photo by Sanir Byanjankar

Freshman RB Dylan Byrd powers forward against Wootton. The roaring crowd fueled the players in the win.

Involvement in high school sports incentivizes academic proficiency and provides pathways for underprivileged students to express themselves. As tryouts for winter sports come and go, so does the rush for many to boost their GPA past the accepted threshold. Students clean up their missing assignments, meet with teachers and prepare for assessments with the sole purpose of rising just above the marker of a C-average (2.0 GPA).

However, for the athletes who are especially dominant and compete for scholarships, a 2.0 GPA won’t get them there. To be eligible as a Division 1 athlete a 2.3 GPA is required and a 2.2 is required for Division 2. The current threshold is a disservice to the student-athletes of MCPS. Why do we allow athletes to participate when they can’t be offered an avenue to higher education? Our thresholds should reflect what’s best for the students and their future.

High school sports evoke a sense of pride, passion and unity toward the school that, for many, is otherwise nonexistent. For participating athletes, it sets a standard of acceptable behavior and becomes an encompassing part of their social identity. With this in mind, I propose a raise of the athletic MCPS GPA threshold from its current 2.0 to 2.3, which roughly translates to four Cs and three Bs. This change establishes a better culture around high school sports, provides a real incentive for academic success to those who may be otherwise disconnected and ensures competitive athletes have a chance at getting scholarships for their talent.

“You have a coach over you that’s always preaching about getting good grades, being eligible and representing the program… It’s a family thing. We hold each other accountable. If a guy is slipping up and having bad grades, the guys on the team are gonna get on him… it makes people become eligible and have better grades. If you weren’t in a sport you wouldn’t have people pushing you. You wouldn’t have that reason to push yourself,” junior and varsity quarterback Charlie Blessing said.

Of course, due to the nature of any threshold, there will be cut-offs and those who will unfortunately not be allowed to participate. While we can empathize, we must remember that varsity athletics are all school-sanctioned and ultimately performance in the classroom should hold precedence over performance on the court/field. Raising the standards further motivates student-athletes to excel in the classroom and form meaningful relationships with their teachers. It helps build strong academic habits that will pay reprimands in college and in future careers.

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