I get it, playing sports is fun and many dream of some day becoming a professional athlete. An important part of the process for all but a select few however; involves being a collegiate athlete. A mistake that many make is focusing just on being as successful as possible in their sport(s), so that at some point in the future, colleges will be lining up and making offers of full athletic scholarships. Make no mistake, having the goal of someday being a pro is great, and working hard to become the best player you can be is absolutely necessary, however; if the academic performance and study habits are not very good, then the chances at having a great selection of colleges to choose from will not be very good either.
Every kid can't be the greatest student in the school, but all can learn to put forth a committed effort to; pay attention in class, ask questions to the teacher when needed, study, do homework, etc... If students are not consistently applying themselves in elementary school, where the academic load is relatively light, then there will be difficulty getting with the program In middle school as the academic demands increase, and there will be even greater difficulty in high school as the demands increase even more.
Many colleges are very expensive to attend, but when academic scholarship money can be added to a partial athletic scholarship and financial aid, then it may become affordable. Unless they watched siblings go through it, athletes that are not yet in high school likely are not familiar with the anxiety high school athletes experience as their senior year draws to a close with the prospects for college not looking good.
When entering high school as a freshman the athlete should be fundamentally sound on the field of play and in the classroom. Based upon middle school academic performance, some athletes are even offered some academic scholarship money to attend private high schools. When financial aid is added to that, then for some, those schools may be an affordable choice. In some areas some of the private school conferences offer elite competition and great exposure to colleges. There is an academic standard that athletes must meet to be eligible to compete for their high school, but the athlete will need to perform well above that standard to be eligible for significant academic scholarship money for college, not to mention to even be accepted by many colleges.
High school athletes must understand that college coaches are in the business of bringing in as many talented players as possible each year. Having a good selection of colleges to choose from allows for picking a school where it is felt that at least eventually, that there will be a realistic chance to earn significant playing time. Being forced to go to a school with low academic standards may result in having to compete each year with incoming teammates that are great enough athletes to be at better schools, but who were also forced to settle for that school.
If the academic problem is just not wanting to deal with putting forth the necessary mental effort it takes to be a good student, and instead chooses to play during class time, and wants nothing to do with homework after school, then even sports will present a huge challenge down the road, as knowing how to fit into a high school or college team's method of play will require paying attention and studying. Most importantly, after school days are over, the athlete will find that there are not very many well paying jobs out there that don't require a strong mental commitment.
Many of life's choices involve some degree of pain and/or pleasure. Dealing with and embracing the temporary pain that may go with trying to be the best student possible, in exchange for good grades and the eventual lifetime pleasure of having had great choices of colleges to play for, and to be set up for life, is a trade off that is obviously well worth it.