Major academic woes

Tanessa Dillard, Managing Editor
Tanessa Dillard, Managing Editor

My parents never asked for much. All I had to do was go to church, be polite and play sports.

When I was in the third grade, my parents forced me to play on a Boys’ Club basketball team. I thought basketball was fine for other people, but what I really wanted was to be a cheerleader, which was not acceptable in my family.

By the time I was in high school, I played sports ranging from basketball to soccer. Being on a team meant a lot to me. It meant more than winning. I liked the recognition, traveling and meeting people. I decided not to take sports too seriously, though, because I did not think they could take me anywhere. I attempted to focus on my grades because I wanted to go to college. I figured if my grades were good I could get a scholarship.

I should not have given up sports. I should have concentrated on them, instead. My grades were good, but never quite good enough. There was always someone a little smarter or who “needed” the scholarship money more than me. My parents, who have spent most of their careers in the classroom as teachers, made too much money to qualify me for anything other than loans.

Knowing what I know now, sports would have been the way to go. That is what my little sister did. She is a high school senior, plays basketball and volleyball, does homework when she wants to, has yet to score a 700 on the SAT (the minimum requirement set by the NCAA to participate in collegiate sports) and she has been offered full rides to colleges all over the country, to play either sport.

Someone should have slapped me silly when I turned in my basketball uniform. When coaches came to visit my sister over the summer, they did not care to ask how much money my parents made. Regardless, my sister will go to school for free. She is good, but she is not the best. She does not have to be.

I hated sports at first, but I grew to like them. Even if I had not developed a love for sports, I would have played them for the money. I would have put up with problem coaches and teammates just for the higher education. I wish someone would have informed me.

My sister looks up to me, because she thinks I am smart. She wishes she could have the grades I had in high school. She wishes she could have my SAT score.

However, I tell her I was not that smart. Grades do not mean anything to me. People cheat to get good grades. They plagiarize to get good grades. In sports, though, one can cheat, but it is not the same. It is more difficult to cheat, because not only is there a referee watching, there is an entire crowd. An athlete must prove herself.

My sister is much smarter than I am. I stressed over chemistry. She blows off classes and teachers she does not like. Her college education will be paid in full, while I will be burdened with loan payments for possibly the rest of my life.

My sister might be pushed through the college system and handed a diploma for being a good sport. She wants to be a teacher and a coach. Coaches tell her she could play professional sports. I tell her she should stick with sports.

Grades do not guarantee anything and neither does a diploma.

Maybe she is a “dumb jock” who will never learn anything in class. I have to admit, I have not learned much in the classroom, either. The real lessons are on the outside. My real education came from reading books and seeing things. It came from leaving home, from a lousy financial aid package and from a sister who hates to do her homework but will never know the meaning of a deferred loan.

I hope my sister learns from my mistakes. While I am struggling as a writer, she might have something much better going for her. She has sports. I have grades. Sometimes I wonder just what I studied so hard for. It has yet to pay off. Maybe my technique was off, but I have never felt as much satisfaction in the classroom as I have on the court.

Tanessa Dillard, Managing Editor
Tanessa Dillard
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