Perhaps the finest conundrum of circular arguments is the classic chicken and egg argument. You know, "which came first, the chicken, or the egg?" Two days ago, my 12 year old son had finally wrapped his mind around that and was able to do the abstract mental gymnastics to figure out the possible loop-holes and off-beat arguments for going either way on that classic question. But after last night's parent-teacher conferences at the middle-school, there's another conundrum we had to talk about: "Which comes first, being a student, or, being an athlete?"To our dismay, we found out that in the past few weeks, academics have been slipping and certain classroom behaviors have been on the rise. Our son has the nickname, Blurt, according to one of his teachers for his impetuous knack to say what comes to mind without much restraint. This behavior was under control but is on the rise. Then his report card from last term was far below his capabilities. But that was largely before baseball started.Our experience has been that being engaged in the discipline of sports has improved our son's grades. Research bears this out. Students who are in sports tend to do better in academics. The two are related for a variety of reasons. For our son, the need to get homework done before practice has largely been an awareness he has maintained on his own. As a sixth grader, we are trying to create environments in which he can maintain that awareness and police his own choices. But in academics, as in sports, he's accountable to various authorities to prove that he is getting the job done and advancing. The roles of coach, parent, and teacher are not at all in conflict. At least in theory. As parents we need to keep maintaining an environment in which these roles support each other. So, which comes first, the student athlete, or the athletic student? I am certain that the answer is "yes."