Never judge a person’s potential by their outward appearance.
In my school, there was a student who everyone called a nerd. He looked like a nerd because he never wore the latest sneakers in style. He never cut class, and never played practical jokes on the teacher.
When he signed up for football and basketball, his classmates thought he was joking. How could someone who appeared to be a nerd be tough on the playing field? Yet, he surprised everyone by excelling in both sports.
After high school and college, this student went on to become an attorney. Although he loved playing sports, he also loved school. He was good in sports, but getting an education mattered more to him because he knew that education was the key to success.
Education is the foundation and key to success
In a study done on the reasons why children play sports, boys and girls ages 10 -12 stated that the top three reasons were to have fun, do something they were good at, and improve their skills.
Professional athletes play because they love the game. Playing sports for money also helps pay the bills. The recorded minimum salary for 2015-16 for a first year player in the NBA for the season is around $525,000. The minimum salary in the NHL is about the same, while the minimum salary in the NFL is 450,000, and $507,000 for a player in the MLB.
The lure of playing sports for money is enticing but it also pays to listen to parents, coaches and caregivers who can teach you lessons about character and the value of getting an education. You have a right to get an education. It promotes your stability and gives you necessary life skills.
John Urschel, defensive lineman for Baltimore Ravens, says he plays because he loves the game. But did you know that his outside interests are playing chess and dabbling in mathematics? Urschel has a Bachelor’s and Master’s in mathematics and has published numerous papers in mathematical journals. When he retires from football, he can probably become a chess champion or a math teacher.
Keep your career options open
According to the NCAA, about 8 million students are currently participating in high school athletics in the United States. Yet, only 480,000 of them will compete at NCAA schools.
The chance of student-athletes becoming professional is even slimmer. Within that group, only a fraction will reach their goal of becoming a professional athlete.
It’s easy for a high school student-athlete to get consumed with the idea that they’re talented enough to play for a professional league. As parents and coaches we can help by telling them to keep their options open, by talking with them to discuss all of their interests.
Never underestimate the power of dreams
It’s a privilege to participate in sports. Many boys and girls dream of playing in front of thousands of screaming fans. Playing also means that you’ll have to stay in shape, because an injury could permanently end one’s career. Then you’ll need to have something to fall back on.
So, for all the boys and girls who dream of skipping college and being drafted into the NBA/WNBA, here’s a good tip. Stay in school. No one is an overnight sensation. By keeping your options open, and building a strong foundation, you can have peace with your life’s choices.