By Donovon Burriss on June 13, 2018
Traditionally, science and math classes have not been courses of interest for our youth because they do not hold practical applications for the typical child. The lack of these programs for elementary and middle school-aged students is a precursor to a phenomenon taking place at the collegiate level that is concentrating more student-athletes into a select few majors.
Picture this, an incoming McDonald’s All-American basketball player walks into his advisor’s office to seek advice on a potential career path of interest. In a typical situation like this, the advisor would be inclined to ask the student, “What interests you?” Without any real exposure to alternative educational paths outside of the ones that allow them to be in the gym as often as possible, these high-profile student-athletes typically do not have any academic interests…and that is where the issue lies.
Academic clustering is cultivated by student-athlete academic advisors, coaches, and social groups. It is a phenomenon that encourages student-athletes into social science majors such as those related to psychology, sociology, law, history, and mass communication. Statistics have even shown that by the eighth semester, 64% of student athletes are social science majors.
But what if our youth were introduced to practical sports applications connected to STEM programs from an early age to creatively pique their interest in an ever-evolving field, while also fostering their love for sports. If the McDonald’s All-American had a larger menu of experiences as a youth, could that make him a better player and citizen with untapped potential beyond the court of play?
By showing youth how STEM programs can benefit and affect them on the field or on the court, they will be more interested in pursuing careers in STEM-related fields. Imagine the possibilities by teaching them about the science of serving a volleyball (Science), in-game communication in football (Technology) or shooting percentage in basketball (Mathematics). We will be able to peak our youth’s creativity and interest in the field of STEM; which they will carry with them into their endeavors into higher education creating a lasting academic impact.