I understand your point but disagree with some of it. Career aspirations are absolutely what is most important, athletic scholarships are a means to that end for many.
My D was an avg to good HS student, ok GPA, not a good test taker. Never very serious about grades, but very serious about her running. I hoped that running might get her to a better school where she might not have gotten without track. Luckily she turned down some near full offers to a few large but less academic D1 schools, and some small partials at P5 conference schools. She went to a small private D1 where she can be near the top of her conference, but also where she will get a lot of one on one attention from professors, tutors, etc.
Now she is excelling academically at a very good college that we could not have afforded without an athletic scholarship. She probably would have floundered academically at a large university, whether on athletic scholarhsip or not.
So each situation is different for each kid. I'm really happy with her decision. It was tough at Signing Day to see competitors she was better then sign with some P5 schools, but she knew they were getting very small partials or books only. After seeing this thread and being very familiar with one the girls involved, she and I both are very happy she chose the path she did.