While watching television last night, I saw a commercial with former NFL great Jerry Rice. In a 30 second clip he is talking about the 2 percent. There are 480,000 student athletes across the country, and only 2 percent of those athletes ever sign a professional contract. That means over 470,000 of those same athletes will never get a shoe contract, no autographs, no private jets, no fan clubs, and no Hall of Fame inductions. Instead, they will walk away with something much more valuable: an education and for many, an experience of a lifetime.
My question then is, why all the hype about college athletes getting paid? Of those 480,000 athletes are colleges and universities only supposed to pay the 2 percent who make it? That’s another tricky slope as well. No one knows which 2 percent will be the ones who make it to the professional level.
While we’re asking questions I have another one. Why do parents spend so much money on their son or daughter to travel all over the United States or their local area to specialize in one sport? Why do high school coaches push athletes to specialize on the sport they coach? What happened to the days when kids were allowed to be kids? Kids were allowed to choose if they wanted to play two or three sports. They weren’t filled with all this hogwash about having to play year round to keep up with the competition and possibly garner a scholarship.
This commercial by one of the NFL’s all-time greats should be blaring in high school and college locker rooms around the country. Kids need to hear this kind of massage and understand reality. Not everyone can play at the professional level. As a matter of fact, 98 percent of college athletes around the country don’t get that chance. All the more reason for athletic personnel and coaches to put much more emphasis on obtaining that college degree. With a college degree in hand after competing in college these student athletes will be equipped with the most important skill that college athletics can do for them. Prepare them for life!
Please take the time to watch this 30 second video. If you work in athletics in any capacity be sure to spread the word.
By Dr. Bret Simmermacher
Dr. Simmermacher is the Chair of Sports Coaching at the United States Sports Academy, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.