The Role of Sports in Education by Leigh Ernst Friestedt | Denver Moms

Women’s lacrosse is breaking barriers by pressuring 8th-grade girls to “commit” to one of the most accelerated early recruiting processes in college sports today. Lacrosse recruiting starts in middle school and requires year-round training to showcase for college coaches. Early recruiting undermines the role of sports in education and prioritizes a student’s athletic ability over academics, years before the college admissions process.

Enabled by loopholes in the NCAA rules, student-athletes can verbally “commit” at any age.  This unregulated process lacks transparency and often consists of an exploding “offer” which pressures a student-athlete to make a premature decision about where to attend college.  College counselors who traditionally provided guidance on this important decision have been replaced by club coaches who often act as agents and operate outside the boundaries of educational institutions.

Driven by the continued expansion of women’s lacrosse teams to comply with Title IX, a university arms race to showcase prestige and wealth, female athletes are in demand by even the elite academic institutions.  While parents, coaches and administrators acknowledge early recruiting is detrimental to the “well-being” of student-athletes, they all actively participate. Parents make a significant investment in their daughter’s athletic career and they expect a return.  But the reality is that only a low percentage will be recruited and even fewer will receive any scholarship.

Sports is a business that is destroying amateurism.  When lacrosse, a non-revenue generating sport, is showcasing early recruiting with teenage girls, the intercollegiate model and ideals of a “student-athlete” have broken down.  It is no secret that sports can help with college admissions, but early recruiting disadvantages student-athletes who cannot afford to participate in the process or afford the high cost of education.  For universities who value diversity, wealth disparity is a compelling reason to evaluate their internal recruiting policies and support the pending NCAA legislation.

The NCAA is currently reviewing early recruiting and will vote on this issue April [13th and 14th].  While multiple sports have submitted different proposals, women’s lacrosse has set forth the most comprehensive legislation which if approved could help to mitigate the problem and begin to address the role of sports in education. MORE…

Leigh Ernst Friestedt is the Founder and President of Equity IX, a media company for her films, screenplays and investments.  Equity IX specializes in addressing issues with sports in education and gender equity based on the principles set forth by Title IX. Leigh received a law degree from Vanderbilt University and serves on the Board of Advisors.  Leigh is a graduate of Brown University where she played on the Women’s Varsity Lacrosse Team earning First Team All-New England and Academic All-Ivy honors.

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