Will Fitzhugh: If we cared as much about history as basketball

Roundup: Talking About History

[Will Fitzhugh is the founder of Consortium for Varsity Academics® and The Concord Review.]

If a college basketball coach is interested in a hot high school prospect this is a checklist of the kind of information that is made available to him about the student:

# of points for season yes (made available)
% of goals per game yes
# of three-pointers yes
% of three-pointers yes
# of free throws yes
% of free throws yes
# of blocked shots yes
# of rebounds yes
# of takeaways (steals) yes
Average points per game yes
# of minutes per game yes
# of assists yes
# of fouls per game yes
# of suspensions yes
Height/Weight yes
Coach's rec. yes
etc. yes

If a college history professor were interested in a hot high school prospect for the history department (there is no such interest), he could not find out:

# of history books read (no)
# of book reports written (no)
# of 2,000-word history research papers written (no)
# of 3,000-word history research papers written (no)
# of 5,000-word history research papers written (no)

This information would not be available to the history professor because he/she doesn't ask for it and doesn't care about it, it is not "tracked" as the basketball (and hockey and football and baseball and soccer and swimming and tennis, etc., etc.) information is, and it is not regarded as important enough to know about.

In addition, college admissions officers do not have information on the actual academic work done by students, so they rely on course grades (simple "grades" in basketball are far too little information for a college coach), and test scores, after school activities, teacher recommendations, and so on.

>From this it should be clear that we take the actual work of our high school athletes far more seriously than we do the work of our high school scholars. We keep track of it in some detail and that information is shared with college coaches who need it to make good decisions on who to admit.

College coaches deliver lists to the Admissions Office with the names and schools of those students (athletes) they need to have admitted. College professors do nothing of the sort.

As far as I know, there are no college history professors observing high school history classes which have hot prospects in them, as college coaches will often visit high school games to see the actual performances of hot prospects for college teams.

We keep track of what is important, and in our approach to high school sports and high school academics we send a clear message to teachers and students that sports matter and academics do not.

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