Why do Student Athletes fail? The question may be the problem.
They don’t. The adults fail.
Student Athletes are products of the adults that love them (or don’t). Student Athletes live in a vacuum of adult created and crafted vacuums, each one filled with mixed messages, confusing priorities, and adult angst. Let’s get to the gut of it all. Adults identify (or don’t) the priority. Adults finance the space (or don’t). Adults are hired to achieve said priority (or don’t). Adults create and raise the student athletes, giving them love, purpose, love, goals, love, belief, love, and support (love).
Now that we have identified the new focus of academic failures, we can work to fix the problems. (Adults). Here is the plan: Keep the first thing first. These are student athletes, not athlete students. When done extremely well, they are SCHOLAR ATHLETES (Yes, I dare to set higher standards). Once the adults agree that the student comes before the athlete, then the path to succeeding at the first thing clears. There are fewer obstacles. There are fewer questions.
Adults, please remember moving forward (and up) that ACADEMICS is the thing. Academics is the key to love of self and others. It is the gift to one’s self that keeps on giving. It opens doors, it finds solutions, and it is a statement that the student is love, and loved enough to improve and add to society, community, and the planet. Practice this statement with your students “Learning is love”.
Adults build the communities, schools, and fields. If the academic focus and priority is clear, decisions about them become simple. What is the first thing? How do we make it better? Is it working? Is it love? Yes, love will be a constant in this. Love of self, family, community, school, others and planet. “Learning is love”. Teaching is also love. The giving of knowledge and information may be one of the great blessings known to mankind. The accepting of that love is the sign of intelligence that is carried throughout life. The openness and willingness to be taught, to accept information, to be questioned, heard, considered, and pondered is how invention and creation are born. And, reborn. Feed love. Love feeds.
When those schools are built, “This is where love lives” should be on every building and in every classroom. These words should be in every teacher contract and on every desk. Adults in place should be asked if they love themselves before being given the responsibility of loving our young futures. They should be asked if they love their students. They should be asked if they love what they are teaching and sharing. This ensures the reinforcing of the positive and loving environment that learning needs, and deserves.
When adult coaches are hired, ask them if they know what is THE focus is. (Academics) Ask them what should they focus on when the first thing and ANY other thing conflicts with it. (Academics) Ask what they are being paid for. (Academics) Ask again, what comes first? (Academics). Then celebrate them when they succeed at it. Celebrate them when the thing that comes first is KEPT first. Celebrate them when the love that they have is shared, repeated, and multiplied. Celebrate them!
When adult teachers are hired, ask them the same questions what comes first? (Academics) Then, ask again. Remind them that they are there to love someone’s, everyone’s young people, and to teach them. They are there to love them, even when they do not feel like loving them, or self. Does their love show in their lessons, in their planning, and in their daily connections? Does love appear on the faces of the students, and do the students leave their classrooms in more love than when they got there? Do the students ask questions, do they smile, and do they say thank you? The adults own the room, they are the keepers of time, and the directors of the lives they touch daily.
When the adults send the students to school, is there love on them already? Love comes in all sizes and colors. Love can be a few hugs before and after school. Love can be authentic questions about the day before, the day of, and what the next day holds. Love can be a kiss on the head during study time, it can be a text during the day to remind them of love of themselves and from home. Love can be an email to the teacher or coach saying thank you, one to the student confirming pride and support, or a text to yourself reminding you to send love later. Love can be ten minutes each week with no cell phones and just two smiles, yours and theirs. Love can be acknowledgment that you understand what they are going through because you were them, once.
When the schools, teachers, coaches, parents, and community all state constantly and consistently what they focus is, that is what it will be. When each of them remember that the system is simply the fence posts in place, each one needing the other to help boundary great young people into greater old people, the fence keeps the priority in place. When one post loosens, the others should feel a tug when resistance happens. When a student strays from the path, the posts are pulled with them, signaling to them all that reposting is needed. When the adults remember what the focus is, focus becomes clearer. It is up to the adults to not fail. As coaches are prone to say, “Win or learn. Never lose.”. Once the adults learn that it is STUDENT ATHLETE, winning happens. Some would say that learning leads to winning.
I cannot wait until the adults learn. The student athletes are trying to win. They need our help. And, our love.