We live in a society that invests more money in sports programs for public schools than in academics. In doing so, we push athletes beyond their capacity limits – juggling school, homework, training, family, sleep, etc. help them succeed.
The Big Ten, SEC, Pac 12 and more are current lectures that resonate with aspiring, current and past varsity athletes. Where you go to school as a player can make or break your future chances of turning pro.
School players in Division I are often the favorites among the top picks in professional leagues. This is due to the rigorous schedule and the pressure on these players. It is as close as possible to the professional level without being in the pros.
An athlete has to prioritize his sport and his studies, which means he cannot get a job. If they benefit from a sports scholarship and work, they can obtain the revocation of their scholarship. If athletes get an offer to go pro, they lose their scholarship and money to complete their degree.
We start to push these players physically and mentally at such a young age – and we can see the repercussions as they get older. These can have the effect of influencing their performance, or even worse, ending their career. If they just focus on their sport and not their studies and suffer a career-ending injury, that’s it for them.
Where do they go from there?
Coaches like Nick Saban at the University of Alabama and Juan Pablo Favero at the University of Oakland protect their athletes from having to think about it. They put more than their sports career in priority. They don’t keep putting injured players in and forcing them through. They provide resources for those with academic and personal difficulties.
Saban requires athletes to complete their diplomas before they can become professionals. More coaches and their representatives should follow in their footsteps. Athletes are more than their skills and performance – they’re humans.
Athletes don’t even receive the grace of their audience most of the time if they don’t participate in matches or perform at their peak. Take Simone Biles, who withdrew from the Tokyo 2021 (2020) Olympics due to mental health issues.
When Biles announced that she would not be attending all of her events in Tokyo, the world went into an uproar. Some criticized Biles for looking good and refusing to compete, while others praised Biles for taking care of herself.
We invest more money in these athletes for entertainment and when they don’t perform to our liking, we cancel them.
This is further proof that athletes are considered for their entertainment and skills, and not for who they are and what they stand for. Protect the athlete. Protect the person. Humanize the player.