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Conor Linehan

English 131: Major Paper 1

Claim Statement:
Contrary to the depiction of dumb jocks in todays media, evidence shows that student
athletes actually outshine their peers in academic environments. This begs the question:
why is the dumb jock stigma perpetuated in our society? Throughout my essay, I plan
to examine the role of jocks in media productions such as Blue Mountain State and
Revenge of the Nerds in order to compare these depictions to evidence regarding the
academic excellence of student athletes. By doing so, I will debunk the stereotype that
student athletes are less intelligent than their peers.

The classic stereotype of student athletes in modern society is typically
characterized by low grades, brutish temperament, and a kind of overarching stupidity.
Whether a student is the captain of a division one football team or the starting power
forward for a community college basketball team, student athletes are often simply
labeled as dumb jocks. However, recent evidence proves that athletes in school often
surpass their peers in academic settings. This begs the question: why does the stigma of
being a dumb jock perpetuate itself when in reality jocks are on average outperforming
their peers? Although modern media often portrays student athletes as being less

intelligent then their peers, participation in collegiate athletic programs benefits students
in ways that traditional classroom settings cannot.
The depiction of the jocks in modern media is best portrayed throughout Spikes
T.V series Blue Mountain State as well as Jeff Kanews Revenge of the Nerds. Enter Thad
Castle, a 62 monstrous linebacker who also serves as the Blue Mountain State football
team captain. Not only does his character encompass all traits typically associated with
jocks, but he also manages to reflect the features usually displayed by dictators (as he is
seen as a self-proclaimed dictator of the teams activities and success). Thads stupidity
and sense of self-righteousness are frequently manifested throughout the series, often
resulting in illegal activities that would normally get a player expelled or arrested. From
injecting himself with rabies before a big game, to breaking into a police station in order
to forcefully free one of his teammates, Thads character serves to embody the extreme
stupidity associated with jocks. This extreme stupidity is even more prominent in the
character of Ogre Palowakski, one of the leaders of the Alpha Beta fraternity depicted in
Revenge of the Nerds. This 64 enormous human wrecking ball is constantly shown
drinking beers, lifting weights, and of course, playing football. Over the course of the
film, it becomes clear that the only reason why Ogre is even able to attend the college is
because of his coachs influence. Whether he is seen chugging beer out of a football
championship trophy, or shouting Nerds! (his classic catch phrase) to the members of
the Tri-Lambda fraternity, Ogres character presents the argument that only his enormous
build matches his stupidity. When it comes to the comparison of Thad and Ogre, two of
the most iconic dumb jocks ever portrayed on television, the similarities are endless.
However, there is one key difference between these two characters that I find very

important. The film Revenge of the Nerds was released in 1984 while Blue Mountain
State premiered in 2010. The fact that these two very similar characters were created
almost thirty years apart from one another underlines the concept that the dumb jock
stigma continues to be perpetuated in our society. This is a key example of the medias
influence on cultural norms and expectations. Although these long-established disputes
between jocks and nerds allow for entertaining storylines in movies and books, the social
implications that these disputes enforce are harmful to our society. By depicting jocks as
subpar students, media outlets effectively degrade the academic excellence of student
athletes, even though evidence actually disproves this classic stereotype.
Over the years, student athletes have upped their games on the court, on the field,
and most importantly, in the classroom. Evidence recently gathered by the NCAA shows
significant increases in academic progress for jocks, regardless of the sport that they play.
The NCAA has shown that division one athletes have (on average) higher SAT and ACT
scores than college bound students. To add to this, the most recent student athlete
graduation success rate describes how for student athletes that entered college in 2007
84 percent graduated within six years. These statistics reinforce the high academic
standards that coaches and athletic directors emphasize throughout each schools sports
programs. The evidence also highlights the dedication that each student athlete must
show towards his or her academic progress in order to achieve a desirable career after
college. Participation in college sports has also been shown to positively impact jocks
from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, especially with regards to students of
color. In support of this idea, the NCAA presents another interesting piece of evidence
that expresses how African American males who are student athletes are ten percent

more likely to graduate college. These ideas reveal how crucial the academic standards
of college athletics are to athletes who associate with specific ethnic groups as well as
athletes in general.
Another key aspect of the influence that collegiate sports has on student athletes is
the notion of learning that takes place outside the classroom. In order to fully appreciate
this concept, one must become open to the idea that there is more to a students academic
excellence than their grade point average. Even though traditional schoolwork is widely
accepted as a way to determine a students overall intelligence, there are many lessons
not tested in school that are associated with athletic involvement. In fact, these lessons
often dont relate to schoolwork at all. Instead, coaches teach their players the value of
possessing qualities such as hard work, self-confidence, respect, and punctuality. Hard
work, for example, is often stressed when preparing for an upcoming season. Players
must dedicate as much time as possible to their sport and to their studies in order to
ensure their eligibility and physical readiness for the start of the season. The benefits of
an athletes hard work are later solidified in the students mind as he or she realizes how
dedication to an idea or a goal eventually leads to personal success. Respect is another
compelling virtue that is taught through ones involvement in college athletics. Coaches
and athletic directors often underline the respect that an athlete must have for his team,
his school, his family, and himself. This relates to the anti-drug policy supported by the
NCAA. By removing hindrances such as drugs from a students life (respect for ones
physical health), the student can focus solely on his or her personal goals. Over the
course of a students experience with sports, the virtues and morals that are presented to
the student serve as life lessons that are not usually stressed within a classroom setting.

Therefore, ones participation in sports allows for a broader and more applicable
educational experience compared to students who arent involved in athletics.
The final evidence that disproves the dumb jock stigma is that of my own
personal experience. Although I never participated in collegiate sporting programs, my
involvement in high school sports has significantly contributed to my intelligence and
personality. One of the important ways that I remember high school sports impacting my
education is the way that basketball puts players in quick decision-making situations. By
placing athletes in situations in which they need to think on their feet, sports effectively
strengthen the athletes abilities to solve problems in quick and effective ways. I found
that these quick decision-making situations (such as deciding which offenses/defenses to
run during a basketball game) personally helped me in test-taking environments. This
also relates to the statistic showing that student athletes have, on average, higher SAT and
ACT scores than non-athletes. Additionally, basketball impacted my education in terms of
my social education. Ill never forget the feeling of inside the locker room after the end of
my senior-year basketball season. All ten of my teammates, along with our coaches, sat
there in disbelief. We knew that our season would come to an end, and yet, after ten years
of playing a sport that meant the world to us, our journey together was finally over. It was
in this moment that I fully realized how close I had become with all of my teammates and
coaches. I had learned how sports could serve as a common ground in which personal
bonds were formed. In fact, through my involvement in sports, I had created relationships
with the people who I still consider to be my best friends. In addition, the sport of
basketball has taught me the importance of trust, as each member of my team had to trust
one anothers work motives in order for our team to improve. The overall decision-

making enhancement and social growth that I experienced through basketball has been
crucial to my educational growth.
Recent evidence clearly indicates that the iconic dumb jock stereotype does not
apply to modern-day student athletes. However, we as a society should not use this
evidence to associate certain intellectual labels with collegiate athletes or any other social
groups. Instead of seeing distinct groups labeled as jocks or nerds, we must
collectively acknowledge the academic excellence of the students who put in the time and
effort needed to succeed in school. By doing so, all of the modern intellectual all-stars
will be accepted for their academic merit instead of their association with jocks or
nerds. Once we break down the stigmas that have traditionally defined a persons
character, we can open our eyes to the unique ideas that each student in todays schools
can contribute to society.