Athletics as an Avenue to a College Education
It’s in the back of every parent’s mind. It’s a goal of every aspiring athlete. The college scholarship. A free ride to an institution of higher learning and perhaps a springboard into professional sports. It is easy to fall into the mindset of athletics as the sole ticket into college and beyond. Under such a mindset, developing yourself into the best possible athlete becomes the most important goal.
The Stark Statistics of Retired Athletes
It’s easy to get caught up in big numbers when the latest pro athlete signs a new deal, but look at the averages. In the NBA, the average player makes $5.15 million. For the MLB, $3.31 million. NHL, $2.4 million. And the NFL, $1.9 million.
Keeping in mind only 1 in 16,000 high school athlete become professional athletes, let’s look closer at the professional lifespan of an athlete. The average NBA player has a career of 4.8 years; the average MLB player competes for 5.6 years; likewise, NHL is 5.6 years. And the NFL finishes out the group with 3.5 years.
If an athlete turns pro, good money can be made.
However, as ESPN so clearly depicted in its recent documentary, “Broke”, the pressures of living a grand life leave many penniless soon after the big professional pay checks dwindle.
The statistics for life after sports are rather grim. Even if you become a professional athlete, earning a living after retirement is far from concrete. In fact, Tony Stewart, a former NFL player and a recent graduate of a co-branded program from the NFL and the Wharton School of Business stated,
“There’s a statistic that says 78 percent of professional football players are bankrupt, divorced, or unemployed two years after leaving the game. To me, that’s just not acceptable. When it’s time, when it’s over, you have to have a plan.”
Evidently, defining your priorities early is a necessity. Remember what always comes first: family and education. Sports are important, but they will never be more important than your family and your learning.
No matter how talented you are, there will come a day where you enter life after sports. While a college athletic scholarship should be a realistic goal, never sacrifice your family and your education to get there.
It is important to define these priorities and communicate with parents, fellow athletes, and coaches. Always remember, there’s more to life than athletics.