More Attention on the End Game for Student-Athletes is Needed

April 24th, 2018 | by Jonathan Yates
More Attention on the End Game for Student-Athletes is Needed

Growing up playing chess, an appreciation for the “end game” develops quickly.

The end game is so critical as there are fewer assets and fewer moves with the denouement drawing inexorably near with each and every maneuver more critical for winning. There is a complete lack of consideration for this in proposed changes in college sports to allow for student-athletes to seek sponsors, have outside employment, and making it easier to transfer. The main consideration should heavily emphasize academics not athletics to ensure a successful end game for college players of graduating with at least one degree, hopefully, more.

As to why for this focus, simply look to the end game for professional football and basketball players.

An article in Sports Illustrated estimated that 80% of NFL players go broke after retirement. It is high too for professional basketball players. These are not only the top 1-2% of college athletes in their sport, they also went to school on an athletic scholarship and are not burdened by the $40,000.00 that cripples the average student, in addition to being paid lavishly as a professional.

Coupled with this harsh reality is the total lack of awareness as to what the future holds for far too many student-athletes.

At the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics event in October in Washington, D.C., NCAA President Mark Emmert spoke of research finding that about three-quarters of D1 basketball players, half of D2, and one-quarter of D3 all expected to play professionally.

In reality, it is less than 1% who will make it to the National Basketball Association.

When career planning is based on a 1% chance, chances are, big time, that the end game will not turn out well. Players in college need to spend as much time as possible finishing, one, two or even three degrees, not working or engaged in sponsorship requirements. It has been done. More than 900 D1 football players last season played having one degree already. It is not difficult.

But it requires the main focus being on academics.

This will not happen if student-athletes are working other jobs, seeking sponsors and fulfilling the related obligations, or transferring rather than facing up to a challenge at the school they thought was best for their needs first. If a student-athlete does transfer, then sitting a year is a needed policy so as to spend more time on completing at least one degree, if not more.

There is an inherent contradiction in those attacking the NCAA on these matters as there is always the complaint that sports take up too much time.

Maybe so. But if it does, then working and seeking sponsors will take away even more time from going to class and studying. Letting students transfer at will and not have to sit out a year accords a great deal of responsibility to a teenager who was wrong the first time. There is a strong chance they think they will be in that small percentage that makes it to the pros. The best thing here is to make that student-athlete take time to focus on completing their degree since they have demonstrated clearly decision-making that is flawed. Nothing wrong with that as they are teenagers and they are still maturing in every meaning of the word. That is why adults should make the decision for them to spend a year moving towards at least one degree!

No matter how strong your position, the end game outcome is never guaranteed.

A study from the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center showed that graduation rates for black male athletes lag behind. Whatever the factors for this, all will be exacerbated if student-athletes start to work, seek and fulfill sponsorship requirements, and transfer at will without having to sit out a year. College graduates make millions more than those without a degree. Graduate degrees make a scholarship work even more in favor of the player. As Andrew Weidinger, who graduated from William & Mary with two degrees and was the William V. Campbell Trophy nominee as the starting fullback on the football team, exclaimed, “Scholar-athletes are the ones exploiting the schools. You get tremendous benefits as part of a scholarship along with leaving a great school like William and Mary with an advanced degree that prepares you for a professional career.”

Jonathan Yates About Jonathan Yates
Jonathan Yates spent much of his career working for Members of Congress in a variety of press and legislative posts. Positions he has held working for Members of Congress and state legislators include Chief of Staff, General Counsel, Legislative Director, Press Secretary, and Legislative Assistant. His journalistic work has appeared in such periodicals as The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Investor's Business Daily, and TheStreet, among others. He has degrees from Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Georgetown University Law Center; and has also matriculated at the U.S. Naval War College and The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Jonathan also hosts The Culture of Sports You can follow Jonathan Yates on Twitter at @politicsports13

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