By Daniel Clarke, 16, Hamilton HS
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Daniel says that football players are unfairly stereotyped as stupid.

Brian Parker studies hard and makes good grades at Hamilton High School. The 17-year-old puts a lot of time into doing his homework and manages to maintain a 3.0 GPA. On top of that, he’s on the football team. Yes, the high school junior can hit the books with as equal force as the field.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Brian is one of the many football players who can play and do well in school contrary to the popular belief that football players are dumb. So where did the stereotype about them come from?

It takes a lot of commitment and discipline to play football and do well in school. How do I know this? Well, maybe because I’m one of those football players. Unfortunately, I am unable to play this year, not because I couldn’t make the grades, but because of a knee injury. So now, I have a lot of free time on my hands and am confronting the preconceived notion about football players being dumb. From what I’ve been hearing, many people believe negative things about football players.

Rita, 16, a junior at Hamilton, said, "All football players are dumb. I’ve seen it with my own eyes."

She believes that football players don’t do their own homework. Instead, they bully others into doing it. Teachers take it easier on the stars of the team, who also don’t do any work, Rita said. "Not once have I seen any of them earn their grades," Rita said.

Free rides? Is that what people think? I find that hard to believe. As a football player, I’ve never encountered any free rides. In fact, it’s the opposite. Football players have to earn their grades just like anyone else. In order to play, players have to maintain a 2.0 GPA. If not, they can’t play until their grades go up.

Some players can’t make the grade

Illustration by Oscar Rodriguez, 17, Vista HS

Brandon, a junior, is one of the players who didn’t get a free ride. He’s ineligible to play this year because of his grades. He admits that last year he didn’t study much or keep up with his assignments. He thought that since he played ball, he could do anything he wanted and still pass, because he was good on the field.

Unfortunately, he was wrong, and soon reality crashed down on him. He’s on the bench this season because of it. Now Brandon is retaking the classes that he screwed up in and making up for his mistakes.

"I shouldn’t have screwed up in school," Brandon said with regret. "I wish I did things differently."

Even though Brandon is an example of one player who didn’t make the cut, there are many players, like Brian, who do. And if you’re wondering if Brian has a secret or even hired someone to do his work for him—think again.

"I just study. And not even that hard. Sure, I give up some things like TV and going out with my friends. But it’s worth it," Brian said. "School and football are important to me."

I can understand where Brian is coming from. Like him, I play ball and do well in school. I managed to keep a 3.2 GPA during the season. I’m not over-the-top smart, but I can work both school and sports at the same time without too much trouble. It takes dedication, discipline and responsibility. It’s more hard work than people give it credit.

So where did so many people get the idea that all football players are dumb? Is it because of those few athletes that don’t do well in school and give everyone the wrong impression about us? I still can’t figure it out.

But it seems that when I asked high school students if they believed that all football players are dumb, I found out something I didn’t know before—more girls than guys believe the stereotype is true!

I wonder if it’s because girls see us hurting each other on the field and then think we’re stupid for enjoying it.

Girls don’t understand. Girls only see from the outside of the game, where we knock each other around. But inside the huddle, it’s a different story. We strategize and try to outsmart our opponents. There’s a lot of thinking involved and each person has to be in sync with the team. In order to be good, it requires muscle and using brain matter!!

Now that I’ve explored some reasons about where this stereotype started, I have another question: Will this stereotype ever end? I just don’t know.

But what I do know is that instead of writing football players off as being stupid, people should find out more about them and not be so eager to pass judgment on them. You never know what’s really going on under that helmet.