Wednesday, September 16, 2015


There is a term for kids who are unable to participate in sports due to failing grades.  It’s called ineligibility.  This is the definition from the “Free Dictionary” online:

Disqualified.  Unworthy.  Unfit.  None of this sounds like something any child should be associated with.

Let me pause and say there are other reasons kids become ineligible, such as being absent the day of a game.  But mostly, ineligibility is associated with failing grades or suspensions.  As an athletics secretary, I check eligibility every Thursday.  I look for the highlighted names of kids who are failing 2.5 classes or more.  I cross reference these names with my rosters.  I contact the teachers to make sure the grades are the most up to date, and then we call coaches. 

You’d be surprised by the grades I see; a 20 in Algebra, a 9 in World Cultures. 

Yes, you read that right. Students can do so little work they have a 9 in a class.  That’s almost hard to do.  Show up and hand in homework and you’ll have higher than that.  You may be able to get higher than that by just showing up.

My son’s Junior Varsity football team just played their second game this past Monday.  Kids were already ineligible, just three and a half weeks into school.  Unfortunately two of these kids are pretty good players, and not having them was a big hit to the team.  If they were playing the game might have had a different outcome.  It made me think about how if I was on that football team, I’d be pretty disappointed.  Part of being on a team is being able to rely on your teammates. 

Teams only work when every player is invested and working just as hard as the next guy.  This applies on and off the field. 

I know there are kids who don’t have it as easy as other kids.  I know there are kids who have a sh*t deal at home. I’m a huge advocate of getting kids involved because it gives them something to care about.  Clubs, teams and activities such as school plays give them a purpose during a pretty confusing time in their lives.   

But there are always those kids that still don’t care.  For whatever reason, what they lose by not putting effort into school doesn’t matter.  It’s a shame, because there are many kids who would give anything to have the natural talent some of these kids have.  There are kids, like my older son, who have to work extremely hard to earn their spot on the field.  I had “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work” inscribed on his first ipod. 

It’s always been my reminder to him that he is in charge of his journey. 

There is always a way to better a situation.  Even if a student fails a class, or falls behind, there is a way.  I beg anyone and everyone who has the ability to influence these kids to ask them about their grades.  Ask if they went to school, or if they need a ride.  Let them know someone cares.  Hold them accountable.  In many instances it takes a different voice to get through to them.  Maybe their parents are checking work and trying to get through and they just can’t; maybe the kid just wants to know someone notices the struggle.

Notice.  Make them feel like they matter.  Encourage them to keep working and keep striving for greatness.

Maybe none of it will matter, but keep trying.  In order to be a success, on or off the field, you need to be eligible.

In life we need to show up.  If you need help, ask.  If you’re struggling in class see the teacher.  These are important lessons every child needs to learn.  

When you know better, you do better.  Teach this to your kids and their friends.  These kids need to understand they are in charge of their life story, and “unworthy, or unfit” need not be part of their definition. 

Happy Weekend all.

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