Sports scholarships and academic scholarships share two very important commonalities -- they're offered as a reward for superior performance and they help to fund education. Sports scholarships are offered to athletes who excel in the athletic arena, while academic scholarships are offered to scholars who excel in the academic arena. However, there are some distinct differences. For instance, the level of objectivity in the selection process and the retention criteria are vastly different.

Objectivity of Selection

The performance criteria for athletic and academic scholarships are very different in terms of objectivity. Academic scholarships are awarded based on very measurable and objectivity criteria such as SAT scores and academic performance in high school. Athletic scholarships are awarded based on somewhat subjective criteria. Though stats may be used in the selection process, the receiving coach may look for qualities other than athletic potential, such as dedication, work ethic and academic potential.

Criteria for Renewal and Longevity

The criteria for renewal also differ in terms of objectivity. Typically, an academic scholarship is renewed as long as the student continues to perform academically at a designated level. However, an athletic scholarship may or may not be renewed, regardless of the level of performance. Additionally, the athlete is not provided with renewal criteria and his scholarship may be withdrawn or non-renewed at the discretion of the head coach at any time.

Awarded Due to Superior Performance

Academic scholarships and athletic scholarships are both awarded based on superior achievement in their relative performance arenas. However, the commonality does not end there. Although achieving academic or athletic success may be the result of some innate gift, it is likely that that type of success will more than likely be accompanied by goal-setting, a superior work ethic and a dedication to hard work.

Used to Fund Education

Both athletic and academic scholarships are used to fund the secondary educational goals of students. It is possible that the amount of the scholarship may impact the level of financial aid awarded. Sometimes the scholarship amount is credited toward the tuition bill, so that the student does not gain physical possession of the money. The financial aid, if any is needed, will be reduced according to the amount of the scholarship.