Recruiting Tip: The real benefits of playing in college

Recruiting Tip: The real benefits of playing in college

Recruiting Column

Recruiting Tip: The real benefits of playing in college

The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.

Nearly every high school athlete dreams of playing in college. Initially, the scholarship money and recognition are the main reasons, but there are so many other benefits of being a college athlete. In fact, the “other” benefits of playing college sports might be just as important as the accolades from your peers and the obvious monetary benefit of a college scholarship.

The experience of participating in intercollegiate athletics teaches each athlete lessons that are invaluable, prepares the student-athlete for the working world, and the relationships that are established along the way last a lifetime. Here are my top 3 real benefits of playing your sport in college.

1. The life lessons learned

The list of life lessons learned by most college athletes is long and it includes things like teamwork, discipline, self-confidence, work ethic, and time management. Most college athletes are put into a situation where they have to learn these traits or they just won’t make it.

There is no better place to learn the skills of selflessness and leadership than on the playing field or court. Winning with respect, losing with dignity and learning from both are lessons that last a lifetime.

2. Many employers want to hire college athletes

Zig Ziglar once said, “There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.” Every college athlete learns this lesson the hard way and it usually happens his or her freshman year.  Prospective employers are looking for hard-working, committed employees and playing college sports develops these traits.

Participating in intercollegiate athletics is like having a job while you’re going to school. Balancing the hours of practice and games while going to college is difficult, and it is an indication of a student’s work ethic.  For those reasons, most prospective employers view participating in college sports similarly to other extracurricular activities such as student government, community activities, or even having a part-time job.

And, finally, in today’s society athletes tend to be looked at as leaders. To be a good leader you have to be confident, resilient, and a strong communicator. Many athletes tend to have those traits and they most likely know how to be a leader. Employers want to hire employees that have the potential to become leaders in their company.

While it might be hard to argue that sports has a direct correlation to higher incomes, promotions, and better jobs, there is no question that the leadership skills, development of teamwork, time management, and determination of many athletes surely help prepare them for life after school.

3. The Relationships

At the top of my list of benefits from playing college sports are the relationships established while being part of a team. Many of your teammates will become lifelong friends and you will never forget your college teammates.  Here’s a story that best exemplifies that comment.

Several years ago I had a conversation that I will never forget. A medical supplies salesman from Tucson, Ariz., who played Division III football 27 years ago called the Playced Dallas office and wanted to talk about the college recruiting process for his children. He had two children who both had a desire to play their sport in college. He was really working hard to help them realize their dream. Why? Because playing college football was one of the best experiences in his life.

Here is the story he told me. Several years ago his college roommate (and teammate) was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease and the prognosis was not good. He decided to host a dinner of former teammates to “love on his roommate.” He sent out invitations and hoped at least a few of the guys could come. Unbelievably, 53 teammates showed up for the dinner, with most of them flying in from their homes scattered all over the country. It was one of the most moving events in his life. They weren’t all best friends, but they had a connection. They were teammates. 

Here’s the deal

If you are lucky enough to have the God-given talent to play intercollegiate sports, don’t miss out on the opportunity. The benefits of playing in college will pay big dividends the rest of your life.

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