Many college athletes regret specializing in sports so young, believe they played in too many games as kids and have unrealistic professional expectations.
Those were just a few of the things revealed last week at the NCAA’s annual convention in San Antonio.
The NCAA surveyed more than 28,000 college athletes as part of a study to examine trends and provide data for NCAA committees and policymakers.
Although some answers were enlightening, most should be common knowledge to anyone following youth, high school and college sports in the last decade.
Too many people chase scholarships. Too many try to keep up with the Joneses. And too many swear they have the best interest of the athletes in mind as kids travel around the country playing the same sport with no breaks.
In the survey, many athletes said they began specializing in their sport by age 12.
For Division I women, the highest percentage was in gymnastics (87 percent) followed by tennis (72), soccer (62), basketball and swimming (55) and softball (48).
For Division I men, the highest was soccer (68), tennis (66), basketball (49), swimming (37), football (33) and baseball (32).
Many college athletes said they thought youth in their sport play too many games and many wish they had tried other sports when they were young.
Once athletes get to college, they are devoting a lot of time to their sport. The Division I median was 34 hours per week, Division II was 32 and Division III was 28.5.
In terms of having a professional career, Division I men’s athletes overestimated their chances. Ice hockey had the highest percentage of players thinking they would go pro or become an Olympian at 78 percent. Basketball was next (73) followed by golf (72), football (64), soccer (53) and baseball (49).
Even 27 percent of Division III men’s players think they are going pro.
The more realistic view? Only 1.6 percent of college athletes are drafted into the NFL, 1.2 into the NBA and 8.6 into MLB.
Asked if their families expected them to go pro from a young age – 43 percent of basketball players said yes followed by football (39) and baseball (34).
Of course, there were encouraging trends in the survey as well.
Ninety percent of college athletes engaged in community service and at least 79 percent cited sports for having a positive impact on these skills: personal responsibility, teamwork skills, work ethic, leadership, personal values and ethics, self-confidence, time management and understanding of other races.
The benefits of sports far outweigh the negatives, but maybe a little perspective from a survey can help make it even better. …
by Rhiannon Potkey, republished with permission
Ventura County Star (California)