When you’re on the field, your mind is clear. You are focused like a laser on what you’re doing. You spend every spare second getting better at your sport. It’s always at the front of your mind.
But maybe this is bad. You spend all this time getting great at a sport, but when you’re in “the real world,” none of that stuff you learned as an athlete will matter, right?
You work out on a schedule. You manage your time so you can balance athletics with schoolwork and other parts of your life. You’re constantly analyzing your game because it lets you learn your weak points and improve them. You expect a lot from yourself, and you have to meet high expectations from coaches and teammates.
You’ll have to do all of these things at a job and as part of a family some day. Athletes will have a leg up because they’ve already learned to do them. Boss won’t take any excuses on a deadline? You have to juggle a favor for your spouse, an outing with your friends, a report for work, and a run for yourself? Nothing new to you.
2. Financial Security
College is expensive, and getting more expensive every year. Most students go into a lot of debt to pay for their college education – Americans now owe over $1 trillion in student loan debt, with the average college student leaving school owing over $25,000. How can you escape that?
If you’re an athlete, the answer is simple: get a scholarship.
Athletic scholarships can lower the cost of your tuition, room, and board. And the many perks of being a student athlete – from the training able to free medical care – can add up to $120,000 in value per year for some sports!
Athletics give you a focus that help you work better in the classroom, and give you more educational opportunities at the next level. Former Chicago Schools CEO and current U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, has pointed out that athletes have higher GPAs than the average student.
And athletes have more options than someone with the same GPA when they decide to go to college. Athletes were admitted to top 25 schools (ranked by U.S. News & World Report) with lower ACT and SAT scores than their non-athlete counterparts. Not because schools are letting athletes “skate by” – just the opposite, as the NCAA is making academic requirements for athletes more strict – but because your achievements in athletics can tell a story about who you are that will be a lot more revealing than a number.
Just like colleges and employers recognize the value of your athletic accomplishments, so do employers. A survey of over 100 CEOs in the Entrepreneurs’ Organization found that 94% had played sports themselves and a full 100% said they would be more likely to hire a student-athlete than a non-student athlete.
Networking – a key to building your career – is also helped by sports. The U.S. Department of Defense found that sports, more so than any other social interaction, helped to build teams and break down social walls. In a few years, being able to hit the courts with your boss will build a lot more than your endurance – it will build your reputation in your company and eventually your resume!
When you’re working your tail off in your sport and in your college recruiting process, remember that the benefits will be life long. George Patton, a legendary American general, said that “a pint of sweat saves a gallon of blood” – meaning that working hard to prepare now will save you a lot of suffering down the road.
But as we’ve seen, any former athlete could have told him that.