Atomic City Update: New GPA requirements for sports are good idea

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By Phil Scherer

Beginning next school year, no student with an “F” grade in any class will be eligible to compete in sports in New Mexico.

I, for one, think this is a great idea for the New Mexico Activities Association.

Until now, students could compete in sports as long as they had a 2.0 GPA and no more than one “F” grade.

My problem with allowing a student to have an “F” in any class is that they are failing in their main role, as a student. For anyone in high school, that has to be the top priority.

If competing in sports interferes with a kid’s ability to pass his classes, they no longer need to be on the field.

Without a quality education, no amount of athletic ability will matter that much in the long run. After all, they are called student-athletes for a reason. The first part has always been far more important than the second.

Competing in sports in high school is a privilege, something that is earned through hard work in the classroom. With these new rules in place, students will earn that right more than ever before.

Another new change is that eligibility will be determined based on semester grades, rather than at the six-week mark and the nine-week mark of the semester. For example, eligibility for the 2018 fall semester will be based on grades from the 2018 spring semester, going on right now.

Anyone deemed ineligible based on grades at the end of the semester would be checked at the six-week mark of the next semester. If they are passing all their classes at that time, they will become eligible to compete, and will undergo another check at the six-week mark of the next semester to make sure they are maintaining their grades.

I think this change is a great idea, because it makes students earn their eligibility if they struggled the previous year.

Under the current system, students are eligible for the first six weeks of the school year, regardless of what their grades look like that semester. That means football players are able to play in the first several games of the season, even if they aren’t passing any of their classes, until six-week grades are released.

This system will take care of that problem, and make everything much more fair.

Of course, this is unlikely to be much of a problem for the vast majority of athletes at Los Alamos High School, one of the best academic schools in the state. Here, most students are more likely to get a 4.0 GPA than be anywhere near a 2.0 GPA.

In a way, these new rule changes are more of a reward for schools like LAHS than anything else. They have always followed the rules, and understood the importance of education, while other schools put more of an emphasis on sports, and allowed students to compete for weeks while being well aware of their academic struggles.

In the long run, that’s not fair to those athletes, and it’s not fair to any school competing against them. It sets the wrong example for everyone involved, and goes against the idea that the playing field is an extension of the classroom.

I believe the classroom should be the priority for everyone, and I’m so glad to see the NMAA doing something to address this topic. This won’t fix all the problems, but it’s a step in the right direction.