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Help keep the student in student-athlete

By definition, a student-athlete is a person taking classes and playing sports.

However, too often students who play sports spend more time shooting hoops in the driveway than cracking open a math book. Grades can suffer, parents get frustrated and student-athletes, all of a sudden, are just the latter.

Teachers will tell you a good student tries his or her best, works hard and strives to be just as good in the classroom as on the playing field. Does this mean a student-athlete must gets all A's?

Usually not.

This simply means that he or she does everything they can to get the best grades possible.

Coaches will tell you a team leader has many of the same qualities as a student-athlete. Most team captains are also student-athletes. Not just athletes who go to school, but good student-athletes.

A team leader doesn't have to be the smartest or the most talented player on the team, but rather someone who works hard, is well-respected by teammates and leads by example on the field and in the classroom.

Ninety-nine percent of student-athletes will make his or her living in an occupation other than playing sports. Therefore, it's important for a student to prepare for life after competitive sports, which for most students ends after high school graduation, if not before.

Have you ever tried to explain this to a child playing youth sports? Most young children who play sports will tell you they plan to "be a pro" in one sport or another. So how do you convince them they won't be a pro?

You can't at a young age, so don't bother trying. Just make sure to reinforce the importance of school.

Players: As another school year and sports season gets under way, the best favor you can do for yourself is to prepare for life after sports. Be more than a student-athlete. Become a good student-athlete.

Parents: As much as we sometimes hate to use missing sports as a consequence for bad grades, sometimes it's the only thing a child cares about enough to make him study. It's not the only solution, but one that should be considered.

Coaches: Often our children listen to their coaches more than anyone else. I always mention the importance of studying and getting good grades after every practice and game. It only takes a second and you never know the impact it might have.

If we all work together, we can help make sure the term "student" stays in the title "student-athlete."