By Ryan McNeill
A book that I would like to recommend for high school athletes is Elwood Scales book “Dual Role: A Success Plan For Student-Athletes.” This book gives high school athletes helpful tips on how to earn a college scholarship, ideas on how to impress coaches and ways to stay out of trouble on and off the field.
Scales motivation for writing this book stems from the fact that he is dismayed with the lack of direction given to high school athletes. In the introduction of his book he wrote that, “it saddens my heart to read the newspaper or to turn on the radio or television and hear about athletes jeopardizing their future with destructive behaviour. It is not uncommon to hear about high school and college athletes getting involved in everything from academic fraud to violent crimes. The ‘dumb jock troublemaker’ syndrome is at an all-time high. Despite the high tech society we live in, athletes are graduating from high school barely able to read and write. Some go on to college, but, after completing four years of eligibility, they are going out into a society with no marketable skills.”
Scales hopes to help fix this problem by providing students with a strong game plan for success in the classroom and he does a great job of this in a chapter called “Knowledge is Power.” In this chapter he examines college athletes chances of becoming a pro athlete (one in 50,000) and then gently reminds athletes about the important of obtaining an education so that they can find a job once they graduate. He also provides 10 study tips as well as a page at the end of the chapter with three tips on what to do when you don’t have homework.
Some of the suggestions in his book – for example never bad mouth a couch or an opponent – will come across as things that should already be put into practice by athletes and things that most coaches teach athletes at a young age, however, the problem with this generation of high school athletes is they have forgotten the fine art of sportsmanship. Young athletes watch professional sports and they see Chad Johnson doing a dance after a touchdown, they see Terrell Owens wearing a racing jacket while riding a bike instead of practising and they get bombarded with streetball videos from companies like AND1. While all of these antics are enjoyable to watch the problem for adolescents is they think this is the normal way to approach athletics. Because this is the only way they see to act in sports they feel that they can treat opponents and coaches in a disrespectful manner like they see their favourite athletes do on television. This kind of attitude can turn off college coaches that might be recruiting them and it will definitely give them a bad rep with a college coach once on campus, thus limiting their playing time. Scales does an excellent job of cutting through the pollution of sports by the media and he does great job of informing young athletes on the proper way to act and talk on and off the field.
Another thing about his book that impressed me was the emphasis that he placed on the importance of the mind, body and soul. Most teens feel that if they learn the game plan and work out in the weight room that they will be prepared for games and they neglect their soul when it comes to athletics. Scales informs athletes that things like diet, alcohol and drug use, personal hygiene, sexual activity, sleep, laughter, stress and their soul are all attributes that come into play when your competing.
I was also impressed with the willingness Scales had to include his Christian faith in this book. Throughout the entire book Scales was able to include scripture verses and biblical principles that related to the concept he was dealing with. It was a refreshing change to see a writer include his faith in a book that wasn’t written just for Christians. Usually when someone includes their faith a book will be targeted just at Christians but this is a book that every high school student athlete should read, whether they are a Christian or not.
I want to finish off this review by stating that following the ideas of this book may not give you street cred but it will help you appreciate the game while helping you achieve greater personal success. Because of this I highly recommend this book to any young athlete. Whether you are hoping to play NCAA athletics or if you are just looking for a way to improve you game, this book will do an excellent job molding how you act on and off the field and in the process help you become stronger spirit, body and mind.