Are you banking on a long pro athlete career to secure your financial future? No matter how good you are as an athlete, at some point your sports career will end. Maybe it'll be after high school, after college or after a successful run as a pro. But regardless of the timing, that day will eventually come.
So it's time to bring back the student-athlete. The glitz and glamour of big time Division I sports have overshadowed what is truly important in an athlete's college career—his or her education. Too often athletes lose focus of what they're in college to do: earn a degree.
Even if you earn a scholarship to play sports in college, you are most likely not going to earn a living by playing as a pro. According to Business Insider, only college baseball players have a higher than two percent chance of playing pro. College football and basketball players have even less of a chance of ever seeing a paycheck from a professional team.
Even some athletes with tremendous talent never make it big at the professional level. Sure, they might get drafted, but they might never make it out of the minor leagues or the development league, or if they do get to the top, they might spend most of their time sitting on the bench. If that happens, chances are they'll be gone from the league in just a few years.
And what happens if an injury occurs? At any moment, an athlete's career could be over.
All of this means that the degree you earn as a student-athlete has a much greater impact on your future than you might be giving it credit for.
Use Your Resources
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently listed the highest- and lowest-ranked Division I athletic program graduation rates. It's unfortunate that so many athletes throw away the opportunity to finish their degree programs. Poor grades and low graduation rates are still major issues in collegiate athletics. The numbers are improving, but many athletes still lack the same level of concentration in the classroom that they bring to the field or court.
So how can you as an athlete make the most out of your college experience? Many teams and athletic departments offer special tutoring and other academic services to their athletes, such as study tables and mandated hours devoted to coursework. Most coaches are willing to go above and beyond to help an athlete who is struggling in a subject, or not putting in the required effort. Take advantage of these and other resources available to you.
Most colleges have a plethora of programs for assisting students. After all, they want their students to succeed and graduate. If you discover and use the resources available to you, sharpen your focus in the classroom and practice good study habits, you will be more likely to attain your degree.
I also encourage athletes to use the connections they make through athletic participation. Teammates and coaches often become like family, developing into lasting relationships. As successful business people know, whom you know is as important as what you know. So it's smart to parlay your sport experiences into meeting alumni, boosters and community leaders. These people can help you achieve your goals as a business professional. You never know which person you meet in life will become a driving force in your career. Networking can be the key to securing an internship, an interview or even a job offer.
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