Many parents are tuned into the process that is meant to help their children reach their athletic potential. A lot of time and money is invested in sports leagues, travel teams, AAU teams, camps, training programs, and for some, even personal trainers, with the goal being for the child to eventually be good enough to earn an athletic scholarship. Unfortunately, many underestimate how difficult it is to get a full athletic scholarship, and many fail to commit to the process that is to lead to a high level of performance in the classroom. Ironically, forming solid academic work habits can lead to the type of academic success that can help provide opportunities for athletics at the college level that otherwise would not be available, ie; academic scholarships, that often times may be combined with partial athletic scholarships, financial aid, etc....
In this age of technology, checking on a student's academic progress is just a few mouse clicks away, as most schools offer multiple means for parents to check their student's progress online. The time a parent regularly takes to sit down with the child to briefly discuss how things are going, and what needs to be done, can be invaluable. Every kid can't be the Valedictorian, but all can work hard at the process needed to develop into the best student possible, ie; learn to put forth a committed effort to; pay attention and behave in class, ask questions and seek help when needed, study, do homework, etc... Ideally, these good habits are ingrained early on, so academic success can be firmly established prior to high school. There are even academic scholarships offered by private high schools based on academic performance in middle school.
In my opinion, a parent that threatens drastic actions, like taking their kid off of a sports team if the report card or interim report is bad, without first attempting to actively get involved in the process of helping the child to develop and mature into a successful student, is doing the child a disservice. It makes a lot more sense for parents to first threaten to limit; video game playing, time on the phone, social media, and other things that may distract the student from committing the appropriate time and attention to academics. Ultimately, it may be sports that motivates the student-athlete to apply himself/herself to academics, as once in high school, there is an academic standard that athletes must attain in order to be eligible for high school sports, and many athletes wouldn't even want to attend college, let alone strive for academic excellence, if not for sports.
Parents concerning themselves with only the grades on the report card, are also doing their child an injustice, as some students are smart enough to get decent grades despite poor academic work habits. Poor habits, inevitably will result in grades that don't represent the best the student is capable of. Once in high school, having great or very good grades, along with impressive SAT and/or ACT test scores, can go a long way to allowing students a lot of affordable options to a lot of great colleges, as I alluded to earlier. Taking the time to prepare for the SAT and ACT tests can be very helpful.
If attending college is the goal, then I suggest that prior to entering high school, to become familiar with what the minimum academic requirements are for different types of colleges. Do not make the mistake of assuming that the college's coaches will be so impressed that they will help with admittance to the school although the academic standard isn't met. This is possible, but should not be counted on. Knowing the colleges academic requirements will allow the student-athlete to work for that standard from the outset.
When students that have failed to apply themselves academically, end up behind and struggling, all is not lost, as certain measures still may be taken. Many teachers are willing to meet with students after school to help them. If necessary, there are tutoring options, and some are free! Some churches and community organizations offer tutoring. Along with these types of action steps, the student simply needs to "buy in" to the fact that a consistent and committed effort to academics is a must. For younger students, academic games and other strategies to make learning fun can be effective in helping motivate the student academically.
If when it comes time to apply for colleges, if the academic record is not impressive enough for admission into schools with high or relatively academic high standards, then junior colleges and some other colleges that have lower academic entry standards can still provide a good education, and preparation for a successful career.
Assuming that due diligence was done to contact colleges and otherwise give the student/athlete the needed exposureto colleges that are a good fit, a family where the athlete is a very good student will have a lot more options at their disposal than a family where the athlete has similar talent but is not a good student. In addition to athletic and academic scholarships, other types of scholarships may also be very helpful, but of course, you've got to put in the time to locate and apply for them. In addition, if the college is affordable, and the student/athlete is able to be admitted, there may be the option of joining the college's team as a walk on, provided that the coach believes the athlete is good enough. A key is that during the summer between the high school junior, and senior year, application for the various scholarships can begin, and the application for financial aid can begin even earlier than that.
The cost to attend college varies greatly from school to school. Public colleges in your state are far more affordable than the out of state, and private colleges. Investigating school loan options may be a necessity, since investing in education is as good a reason as any to go into debt. Investing the time and energy into helping the athlete reach his/her academic potential, however; can literally pay big dividends, and drastically reduce the cost to go to college. Besides, it is the academic work ethic that will most likely serve the student-athlete best during their chosen career after graduation!