Dumb Jock or Smart Athlete?

Dumb Jock Myth is Becoming Just That

However, at the end of the day, the typical athlete isn’t the proverbial dumb football player who majors in stained glass. Typically, student-athletes as a whole out-perform their non-athlete peers in college; they earn better grades and enjoy a higher graduation rate. As a result, the term “scholar-athlete” is gaining in popularity, both as a stereotype and as a calling—a status that is viewed as desirable to athletes themselves, their parents and, best of all, employers.


In Division I sports at NCAA schools, student-athletes are graduating at the highest rates ever, according to the latest NCAA Graduation Success Rates (GSR). The most recent GSR data show that 79 percent of freshmen student-athletes who entered college in 2001 earned their four-year degrees. The average Graduation Success Rate for the last four graduating classes is 78 percent. Even when calculating graduation rates using the federal government’s methodology (which does not count transfer students), Division I student-athletes graduated at 64 percent—the highest federal rate ever. This rate is two percentage points higher than the general student body, two percentage points higher than last year and up four percentage points over the past seven years.


The NCAA leadership has praised the latest GSR figures, citing increased initial-eligibility standards and an overall emphasis on academics, including the development of the Academic Progress Rate (APR) for each Division I sports team as key factors contributing to student-athlete success. The APR tracks academic progress of its athletes on each NCAA team.


The net result is that nearly eight out of ten Division I student-athletes are finishing college and earning their degrees. Academically speaking, the so-called “dumb jock” myth is becoming just that—a myth.


Dumb Jock or Scholar-Athlete…Your Choice

When most people talk about the social groups in their school, they matter-of-factly categorize almost every fellow student into stereotyped pigeonholes. There are the nerds, the Greeks, the rockers, the preppies, the Goths—and of course, the jocks.


Everyone knows the term jock is derived from the word jockstrap, which hardly anybody still wears, but the term has stuck. The term jock is a classic North American stereotype of a male athlete, but with the recent rise in women sports, women have felt the sting of this ugly stereotype as well. Odd, since women don’t even use jockstraps!


The jock stereotype is attributed mostly to high school and college athletics participants who form a significant youth subculture. As a blanket term, “the jock” is considered synonymous with an athlete, and the jock stereotype is used often in the mass media to portray a relatively unintelligent and unenlightened, but nonetheless physically and socially well-endowed character.