Athletes DO graduate from college

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Race, Class, and Graduation Rates

These two together make a valuable point that’s often missed in the operatic hand-wringing about the failures and abuses of college athletics: when you’re talking about graduation rates, it’s important to compare apples to apples.

Interesting article.  Everyone has heard about the abysmal graduation rate of college athletes, especially at the top sports schools.  But the point here is that comparing the graduation rates of athletes to the overall graduation rates isn’t fair.  If you look at the graduation rates separated by race, it becomes clear that the problem is not that too few athletes graduate, but that too few minorities graduate. 

This is not to say that this isn’t a problem.  But the potential solutions to the problem are very different.  It reminds us that it’s very important to actually identify the problem before trying to solve it.  This should be obvious, but too often it isn’t.

Back in college, as a math major, I remember hearing over and over how important it was to first understand the question.  At times, I thought, “Leave me alone, of course I understand the question, and if I didn’t, it’s your fault for the way you wrote it."  But then you get to the real world, and it becomes less and clear what the questions are.  I guess my professors were right. 

Anyway, the article suggests that athletes' graduation rates would take care of themselves if we helped out minority students.  Which seems like a good idea to me. 

Posted in: numbers , Statistics