Rip often comes late to class. He hardly ever does his homework. He doesn’t study either. He frequently misbehaves and when I finally wrote him up I discovered that the Dean’s office knows him well. He’s generally trouble in his classes. This ”boy” is a junior. He’s taking Spanish 1 and I’d bet he’s tried and failed this class before. It’s the end of the first quarter and he has one of the few “F” grades in the class. Why is he here? It’s probably his dreams.
He refused to do an art project last week. While the art teacher worked with my class, Rip and I sat outside the art studio. I asked Rip about his plans, truly curious where he felt he might be headed. His answer made me sad. He wants to play football for Northern Illinois University, he said, and then enter the NFL. In case the NFL does not work out, he plans to major in business.
I did not say a word about this plan, other than to say a backup plan like business was always a good idea. He and I have a rocky relationship right now. We’ll have a rockier one if he fails the quarter.
I did not say, “you’re 5’ 5” maybe and you have a beard already. You’re going to be small guy, even if you tend to larger bones. The NFL is out of the question. A football scholarship might be possible if you have exceptional athletic talent, except your academic behavior is going to shut you out of that game as well.”
My own classroom problems aside, I’m angry for this boy. I’m pretty sure he is in Spanish because his counselor told him he needs Spanish for college. I’m also sure that his counselor avoided the NFL plan, ducking it with something like, “well, you might want to take some business courses in case that does not work out.” I doubt anyone has ever been honest with this boy and honesty could help Rip a lot. He needs to hear a few facts – like how much more height and girth a boy adds after he grows that beard, and how that affects his NFL prospects. He also needs to understand that grades and academics matter. I don’t think he has made that connection.
Right now, Rip is failing his courses, supported by a pipe dream that no one is willing to touch.