The Myth of the Student Athlete
I just finished watching the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, in which the University of Kentucky barely squeaked out a win against a depleted Florida State University. I’ve been somewhat out of the loop, so I was amused to find that almost half of the FSU team didn’t make the trip because they were busted in a cheating scandal that involved an online exam on a music history test.
As the story goes, an instructor at Florida State provided the same exact test for seven consecutive semesters. The answers to the test were well-known, not just to the football academic tutors, but also to the rest of the non-student athletes enrolled in the class. Let’s give Florida State some credit here for some self-policing that other institutions (like the University of Kentucky, for instance) would never have done.
But seriously, does this incident not provide another nugget of proof that the sports media has made the concept of “student athlete” an illusion? Florida State isn’t the only university that provides its athletes a “generous” amount of academic “assistance.” I’m just amused that a cheating scandal has erupted on a black-and-white test, where the lines between academic honesty and dishonesty are much more clearly drawn then they are in a writing class. It’s much harder to quantify the degree of “help” that many athlete-students receive as they write essays.
I also think it’s interesting that not many people are ridiculing the music history professor for his (or her) lackluster pedagogy. The same exact online test for seven semesters? Perhaps the Florida State incident should be a clarion call for an improved approach to undergraduate education in our land grant institutions. Who cares if half of Florida State’s team wasn’t able to make the trip.
For the record though, they played a great game.