The GPA to Play

The Dreaded GPA or Can’t Play

There’s not too much that gets me fired up more than coaches thinking they are helping kids when they set an arbitrary GPA, like a 2.5, 2.8. I once encountered a coach who set a 3.3 as the standard. What a huge mistake, and they don’t even realize it!

On the surface, it might sound like the right decision. We all want our players to succeed at learning and complete their school work.

Often we don’t see under the surface.

Let’s take a minute and think about how many kids struggle with how teachers deliver the information, which causes them not to retain information as quickly. What about the students who are horrible test takers? Or, what about the students who come from terrible home conditions - not fed before school, which creates low energy and a dampened thought process.

Earning good grades is very silly when you think about it. Does it matter if a student gets a 90 on a test but only did so because of a massive cram session the night before? Two days later, they can’t remember a thing. That’s not learning, it’s not knowledge, and it’s not the goal. But, hey, they got a 90 on the test. The ultimate goal should always be the attainment of knowledge they can use.

Learning Should Be Engaging and Fun

Real learning is shared with classmates and in groups. When a student is struggling, they should be able to get help and support from classmates and the teacher freely. Punishment for not knowing something is flat-out wrong. It’s an opportunity to help and engage. 

I have witnessed students punished and taken off teams because they didn’t meet these arbitrary grades yet were ideal students. They communicate well, participate in class, have great attitudes, and are polite, yet struggle with how the information in class is delivered. However, students who easily retain information and pass tests while never studying, are jerks in class, rude to teachers, mean to classmates, and have poor attitudes, get the nod because they scored high on a test.

We have created an environment where what we consider acceptable is based on outdated thought processes and un-researched information. We set grade point averages because we can. Do we truly consider how students learn, what’s going on in their lives, and how teachers teach the information?

Don’t Get Me Wrong

If a basketball player is failing because they put no effort into their classes and simply don’t do the work- that’s the ground for dismissal. But if they are trying and doing all that is asked of them yet still struggling, they should never be taken off a team- period! 

Last but not least. Let’s stop referring to academics as the most important- and the sport is just a game. That is such a narrow-minded approach. In my thirty-two years of being a teacher and coach, I can tell you that sports can uplift students, the school, and the community- not always academics. Of course, academics are important, and we should all be proud of students who excel in them. I can honestly say, even though I had a father who was educated for forty-four years and was my principal during my high school years, brothers and sisters who were teachers- I hated school!

I experienced many teachers who sucked every ounce of enjoyment out of school and had no clue how to teach ME. I learned differently and was punished because of it. The one thing that encourages students like me to come to school is sports and friends. Take those away, and you’ve lost any motivation a child might have had.

Learning is the real power regardless of grade point average. The new Certified Basketball Speed Specialist Level 1 Course is all about gaining knowledge to be the best coach possible.

Categories: art of coaching, basketball speed