On the surface, I think college sports can seem like a waste of time and effort to some people, especially if that athlete is not continuing their sport at the professional level. It is very hard to see the long-term benefits of making that type of commitment in college if they have no intention of a career out of it in the future. While some people may agree with those statements, I want to briefly discuss some of the underlying benefits of college sports that most collegiate athletes would probably agree with me on.
I’ve seen plenty of my fellow student-athletes find job opportunities through athletics by simply making connections through their athletic department or other departments within the NCAA. Having prior college athletics experience can lead to opportunities in coaching, personal training, sports information, becoming a director of athletics, or even working directly within the NCAA.
Whether an athlete is working in sports or not, they have still developed very transferable skills while playing their sport. Time management is probably one of the most important skills in being a student-athlete. Balancing practice, games/meets/matches, class, homework, jobs, clubs, and social life can all be valuable in the workplace (if they’re each done well of course). Being able to effectively handle all of these responsibilities can show employers that you are capable of effectively taking on a number of different tasks at once. This is why it is also just as important to be involved in different things on and off campus to show your versatility.
Teamwork is also a very transferable skill in the workplace. Being a part of a sports team can exemplify how well a person can work with others. Even being a captain of a team can show employers that a person has leadership qualities and can take on important roles in the workplace.
Many college sports teams also do a good job of giving back to the community. Quality coaches will organize service days for their teams and do some type of community service a few times a year. It is important that student-athletes note these experiences when applying for jobs, while also capitalizing on these days of service by giving back to the community on their own time. Joining clubs on campus that facilitate these types of events are great ways to get involved. Some of these clubs are even exclusively made for student-athletes (and if you don’t have one, you could always make one).
I think it’s important that student-athletes recognize their value before it’s too late. Many of them have been given the label of “college athlete” for so long that it becomes the only thing they identify themselves as. Then, by the time they realize that the student-athlete life won’t last forever, it’s too late. It’s crucial that all student-athletes understand that they’re more than that, and that they must find their own identity outside of their respective sport.