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Morris Claiborne is Definitely Not a “Student-Athlete”

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The ninth month of the year is:

1. October 2. January 3. June 4. September 5 May

Think you can answer that brain buster? How about this one?

When rope is selling at $.10 a foot, how many feet can you buy for sixty cents?

Assuming that you’ve successfully navigated the rigors of second grade, these questions are comically simple for you. Unfortunately, for Morris Claiborne, a top NFL draft prospect, and person that spent his past three years at a major American university like LSU, the mental strain from such difficult questions was too much to take.

For those of you not familiar with the Wonderlic test and it’s relation to professional football. It’s a 50-question exam given to the incoming NFL rookies that is used as a baseline for general intelligence across a number of measurable factors. The average score correlates pretty closely with average human intelligence. Expounding on that, the general draft prospect scores a 21 (quarterbacks and linemen higher, receivers and running backs lower). What does this score mean? Well a score of 20 indicates an IQ of 100 which is right on par with the generally accepted national average (and what can be expected from a junior high school graduate). So, for the most part, NFL prospects on the whole, are at or very slightly above normal human intelligence. Apparently Morris Claiborne missed the memo as well as every class he was ever supposed to attend since kindergarten.

How poorly did Claiborne score on the test? According to multiple sources around the league, Claiborne scored a… four.

Yes, a FOUR.

I don’t work for Wonderlic, Inc, so I can’t exactly tell you what a score of 4 actually correlates to from a human development standpoint as cognitive ability is not linearly related to IQ and IQ points are not percentage points. Still, using a very rudimentary sliding scale with average intelligence at 20 (score) / 100 (IQ) and highest genius at 50/180, that would put Claiborne’s IQ somewhere in the 50s.

What I can do is tell you what experts have come up with to describe the mental capacity of people with an IQ in the 50s. Terms like “definitely feeble-minded,” stand out, as do the classifications of “Imbecile” and “Moron” based on the archaic scale, as well as afflicted with anywhere from “Moderate to Mild Mental Retardation.” As for jobs that can be accomplished from people with IQs in this range: “mow lawns, do simple laundry, and domestic work.” If you get to 60, you can feasibly “harvest vegetables.”

That being said, there are reports beginning to circulate that he may have a learning disability. These reports have never been mentioned in the public arena until this morning, so I’m taking them with a grain of salt.  I am also not sure what not knowing the 9th month of the year has to do with having a learning disability… but I guess if you cannot read, you have no idea what’s on the test. More to the point, I’m also more than certain that if he actually has a legitimate learning disability, he would’ve either declined to take the test, or his agent would’ve notified the NFL of the condition, separate arrangements would’ve been made to gauge his mental acumen, and he would not have been forced to take the written test.

My only hope is that Claiborne fell asleep upon receiving the test and didn’t wake up until it was time to turn it in. Unless he didn’t care and tanked it on purpose (which is a possibility) these results are frightening on a number of fronts.

1)      How can a person who, judging by these results, can’t read, write, or fully function get accepted into a major institute of higher learning? I understand that LSU isn’t Harvard, but they do have some standards that should be at least equivalent to spelling your own name and knowing your address.

2)      How can LSU, with a straight face, say that Claiborne went to class, did all of his own work, and was successful enough to remain eligible to compete on the field? I’m not saying that college is difficult. If you go to class, read your textbook now and then, and give half an ounce of effort, you can back in to a C in most cases, but if you legitimately score a 4, I’m not sure you can physically find your way to class, let alone read.

3)      These draft prospects go through rigorous training to prepare for the combine. Training not only includes physical activity (lifting, running, jumping), but also communications training and a prep-course for the Wonderlic. If he studied for the test and got a four, what would he have gotten without it? A two? Would he have simply just eaten his pencil?

I think it’s pretty much a given that athletes, especially star-athletes receive preferential treatment and calling them “student-athletes” is one of the bigger misnomers around. Still, I guess I was hoping that we have advanced over the past 30 years from when Dexter Manley did four years at Oklahoma State despite being functionally illiterate. Unfortunately, if these reports are true, I have been proven wrong. I understand that this problem isn’t entirely restricted to athletes. At one point during my undergrad I was walking past a classroom with a math class going on and heard the following conversation:

Teacher: “…and for this problem the answer for X is 7”

Student: “Wait, what?! You said last week that X equals 3”

Yes… that really happened. Granted the future leader of America that didn’t understand the concept of a variable may have very well been an athlete, but there are probably more students like him (and Claiborne) than colleges would like to admit.

It’s always been my thought that college should be a privilege and not a right. More stringent admissions processes would help to instill the values of accountability and hard work that seem to be lacking more and more from today’s youth. If more people got rejected from college with their 1.2 high school GPAs and 8 ACT scores, they might just realize that everyone isn’t the best at everything and just being alive doesn’t entitle you to have a Mercedes and an iPhone. As I step down off my soapbox, I fully understand that Claiborne’s case flies in the face of everything that I just said; because of his athletic abilities he is going to be a multi-millionaire and still would’ve been had he gone to the combine wearing shoes on his hands and proceeded to tell everyone that he can’t count to 6. I also understand that until high schools and colleges go to computer-based testing with a fingerprint needed to access, kids will continue to cheat their way through, college will continue to ensure that their revenue drivers stay driving revenue, and the term “student-athlete” will continue to disintegrate. The ironic thing is that the ones who should be upset, the actual hard-working students attempting to better themselves, that are also talented athletes and lumped in with the Morris Claiborne’s of the world don’t have time to be upset… they are too busy studying for exams or prepping for a job interview in the real world.

What does Claiborne have to say about all this?

Morris Claiborne ‏ @MoClaiborne

At the end of the day I will be a top 10 pick! MoMo17”


2 Responses to “Morris Claiborne is Definitely Not a “Student-Athlete””

  1. An LSU source told ESPN’s Joe Schad that Claiborne is a “visual learner.”

    “Mo has a high football IQ,” the source said. “He just learns in a different way. He’s a visual learner. He can handle playbook and scheme in the NFL.”

    A 2009 study by professors from Fresno State University, the University of Georgia and Towson State found no connection between Wonderlic scores and performance during the first three years of a player’s NFL career. The group studied 762 players from the 2002, 2003 and 2004 draft classes.

    John W. Michel, an assistant professor at Towson University who co-authored the study, told The Washington Post: “We found in no cases was cognitive ability related to [football] performance. We did find a negative relationship for tight ends and defensive backs. For defensive backs, it was the most pronounced; basically, the lower you scored on the Wonderlic, the better you performed.”

    Posted by BDigital | April 3, 2012, 9:56 pm
    • So, a school with a 14% graduation rate (Fresno State), a school with a 43% graduation rate (Towson State), and a school with a 51% graduation rate (Georgia) are claiming that being intelligent isn’t important… or at least important to a football player.

      I understand that athletes don’t need intelligence to run quickly or potentially play man-to-man. I’ll even concede that in certain instances less thinking and more reacting is the better thing to do. However, that all goes out the window if the coach forgets to tie the player’s shoes. A task that someone with a 4 on the Wonderlic would struggle in doing. Then again, I guess that’s why velcro is around.

      Posted by Jason Marlo | April 3, 2012, 10:50 pm

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