What happens to college athletes after the spotlight is turned off? They probably just ride off into the sunset with their college degrees and get a normal job like the rest of us…right? They can easily get a job in their desired field since they carry such notoriety with them. If only it worked that easily for them.
You probably already know this statistic, but the majority (98%) of college athletes do not make a professional team. To give you an idea of what 98% is; there are roughly 460,000 student-athletes and only 9,200 of them will make a professional roster. This has been mentioned in commercials, the news (many, many times), and many other outlets. It’s a serious problem that colleges don’t prepare their students for.
College coaches know that the majority, if any, of their players will make a professional roster; something that’s not mentioned in the recruitment process. One of the biggest recruiting tactics is to mention that attending a specific college will give that player the platform they need to go professional. But it’s never mentioned what happens after their playing days are over and they don’t make a professional team, the most important piece. Players are set up to have the drive and mentality to push themselves for the rest of their life, but they’re not afforded the knowledge of how to live outside of sports.
Mike Golic, of Golic and Wingo, formerly Mike and Mike, once stated that colleges prepare students (mainly athletes) to play sports and learn in school. Excellent, that’s what a college is supposed to do! But he then goes on to mention that there’s no preparation for life after college. Athletes don’t know where to turn when they aren’t playing sports anymore, students don’t know where to turn when they can’t find a job in their major.
So, what happens to the 98% of student-athletes, the remaining 450,800 students? The possibilities are endless, but many of the athletes who leave college early to make a professional team, those are the black sheep. Those are the ones who leave without the education needed, before they’ve matured enough, the mentality that they’ve made a successful life from here on out. But what happens if they get cut? Granted, many of the athletes who leave college early are talented enough to make and stay on a professional roster, but there are many who aren’t. Their agent and coach often advise them that they’re good enough, but they don’t get drafted, or maybe they make a professional team and then they get cut a few months down the road. They’re left with no job, no education, and they can no longer play for a college team. It sounds as if they’ve got nowhere to go.
There isn’t any perfect solution, it would be great if there was. The system is broken for college sports, that’s a definitive fact. How can it be fixed, who can fix it, when will it be fixed, are all questions that need to be answered but there aren’t any plans to answer them. It boils down to a society in which we value sports more than education. When we have student-athletes leaving school early to chase a dream they have, great, let them chase it, but there needs to be something in place for them if it fails. And it isn’t just for student-athletes, everyone should be able to have a backup plan so if their dreams fall short, they’re not left out in the cold.