Athletes for Education

As a “parent of a varsity college athlete” I am very tuned in to the concern about athletic vs academics. Do college administrators and professors wink at the academic side of college for athletes? Do athletes devalue going to class, writing papers, participating fully in college intellectual life? I have lots of anecdotal evidence that the answer is very individualized – some do, some don’t.

In this blog post, I am happy to be able to highlight the really thoughtful approach being taken by one of the highest profile athletes around: LeBron James.

LeBron James Family Foundation

Back in 2011, LeBron decided to make a major investment in the kids from his hometown, Akron Ohio. Not just his name and his money but his time and the development of a relationship with the kids. His program starts with 3rd graders and goes all the way through high school providing a cornucopia of strategies with one goal in mind – academic success all the way through college.

And LeBron is planning ahead. Though the first group of kids won’t start college until 2021, he has just announced a partnership with the University of Akron. The idea is this: Any kid who goes through LeBron’s program, gets good grades, has good attendance, will be eligible for a full 4-year scholarship to UA. That’s $9,500/year per kid for as many as 2,300 children. Some are athletes. Many are not. All matter to one athlete who values the academic component of a college education.

Learn more at

Share stories of others who are investing in academics for athletes.

Fast Break and Stone Fox

New and Fabulous

Fast Break by Mike Lupica is a good read for middle school athletes – especially if you have a soft spot for basketball. Fast Break is hot off the press, the latest from a popular author who knows his sports. This one has a twist – the hero is in foster care.

Jayson is the new kid on the block, living with foster parents, and he’s hiding a secret about how he got there. As he tries to adjust to his new life, he struggles to figure out exactly where he fits in: on the school basketball team, with the wealthy girl he’d like to get to know better, with his foster parents. And something holds him back: he doesn’t know how he can ever come clean about his past.

The book is being compared to The Blind Side. Enjoy!

Oldie but Goodie

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner was a favorite in our household, one we read over and over again. The sport here is dogsledding. Young Willy’s grandfather owes $500 in back taxes and he doesn’t have the money. So he stands to lose his Wyoming farm. Then Willy learns about a dogsledding contest. The winner gets a prize of – you guessed it – $500. Willy gives it is all. But he’s up against Native American champ Stone Fox. This is a story about putting in hard work to win for someone you love. The book is engrossing from beginning to end and pulls on the heartstrings like few others. Pegged for ages 8-12. It won lots of prizes when it came out in 1980. A great read!!!

Do you have other sports-themed books to recommend?