A+ for athletes adds motivation

February 5, 2011 — by Evaline Ju

A+: The grade given after exceptional hard work produces successful results. Students strive for that grade in all subjects, from math to English, throughout their time in school. Yet if it is awarded in academics, why not for success in athletics as well?

The school’s physical education program does not reward A+’s to athletes playing sports, but does so in normal PE classes. Many can argue that academics trumps athletics when it comes to college admissions; a student, no matter how great his athletic ability, needs decent grades to go to college.

But for many talented student-athletes in Saratoga, a possibility of an A+ for sports would provide greater motivation. (It can also appease the demands of strict parents looking for A+’s in every subject.)

If students in normal PE classes can strive for an A+, athletes should be able to as well. After all, high school life is not merely about academics, an idea that Saratoga, in recent years, has come to embody. An A+ would not be a major change, though it can open new possibilities for students thinking about continuing or even starting a sport after their high school PE credits are fulfilled.

Worries may arise over the rewarding of an A+, including concerns about coaches giving the grade without restraint. Yet if people looked at music classes, they would find that the grading can be just as subjective. At West Valley College, for example, the grade for a college chamber ensemble course is based on attendance and effort, not only on prior skills. Additionally, here in Saratoga, students can achieve A+’s in their visual and performing arts courses.

Guidelines can be set for the awarding of an A+ to prevent misunderstandings. An athlete would obviously have to fully participate in the sport. Individual coaches can set more detailed requirements specific to the sport, and if necessary, get them approved by the administration.
The coaches who interact with the athletes and understand the sport know the abilities of the students. Thus, if they can create the ideal “A+” tailored to each player with realistic goals, and the player works hard enough to achieve those goals, then he or she can receive the grade.

It is no easy task to set prerequisites for grading subjects like sports or music when different students perform on various levels. A grade would become a measure of a person’s achievements while keeping his abilities in mind. An A+ for sports goes beyond a grade, to a possible change of mindset. It can motivate a student to take another look at participating on a school team and motivate others to achieve more.

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