Here's a bookthat's a labor of love—On the Mark: Putting the Student Back in Student-Athlete(Lexington Books, $22 hard cover. $9.95 paperback), by Richard Lapchick, thedirector of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at NortheasternUniversity, and Robert Malekoff. the center's director of research. Lapchick isthe son of Joe Lapchick, who was a renowned basketball player 60 years ago withthe Original Celtics and an equally renowned coach later on at St. John'sUniversity and with the New York Knicks. The younger Lapchick has writtenearlier books on sports and society, specifically about the role of racism insports. Malekoff was a varsity lacrosse player at Bowling Green StateUniversity, later coached women's soccer and men's lacrosse at Princeton and isinvolved in a nationwide program to help former athletes complete work fortheir college degrees.
In short, bothLapchick and Malekoff have a long-standing interest in sports and obviouslycare a great deal about athletes. In On the Mark they're aiming at high schoolkids whose athletic skills are leading them toward college scholarships. Theauthors describe the rich opportunities that lie ahead for these youngathletes, but they also warn of the pitfalls. They contrast, for example, thestory of Stefan Humphries, who made his athletic scholarship pay off, with thatof poor Fred Buttler. After working hard—on both his studies and hisfootball—in high school. Humphries was able to prepare for the future byearning a degree in engineering at the University of Michigan before going onto play pro ball for the Chicago Bears. Buttler, on the other hand, driftedthrough high school on undeserved passing grades he received from well-meaningbut short-sighted teachers. At Los Angeles State, still almost illiterate, hewas given the same treatment until his football eligibility ended. Not goodenough to play pro football, Buttler had nothing to show for his years in highschool and college.
But instead ofdumping blame on administrators, coaches and overzealous boosters, Lapchick andMalekoff argue that the responsibility for getting the most out of ascholarship and avoiding exploitation lies with athletes themselves. It's yourlife, the authors say; learn how to handle it. Their book is designed to showyoungsters how to do this. One chapter, "Rules of the Game," apractical guide to evaluating scholarship offers, is worth the price of thebook. High school athletes, both men and women, with an eye on college shouldread it—and so should their parents. On the Mark could change their lives.