Recruiting Column: The real-life impact of being a college athlete

Recruiting Column: The real-life impact of being a college athlete

High School Sports

Recruiting Column: The real-life impact of being a college athlete


Most high school athletes dream of playing their sport in college. Initially, the idea of playing at such a high level and the hype that surrounds it are the main reasons. Given the social media-crazed world we live in, that’s totally understandable! But there are so many other benefits that come with being a college athlete. In fact, the real benefits of playing college sports are much more important than the signing parties and Twitter fame.

In addition to a degree, the experience of playing in college will teach you countless invaluable lessons. It will not only prepare you for the working world, but being a college athlete will also cement relationships in your life that will last a lifetime. So, aside from the glitz and glamour, here are real-life benefits of playing your sport in college.


Whether you’re an athlete or not, the primary reason of going to college is to get a quality education and to prepare you for life after school. You need to find a college where the education you receive will set the stage for your career. Very few high school athletes ever play their sport professionally, so if being a professional athlete is your Plan A, then you must have a Plan B. The most logical Plan B is to finish your college degree and that will make finding a job when you graduate that much easier.

Additionally, an athletic scholarship can go a long way toward making college more affordable. The College Board in its most recent survey of college pricing, reported that a moderate college budget for an in-state public college for the 2017–2018 academic year averaged $25,290. A moderate budget at a private college averaged $50,900. With those numbers in mind, an athletic scholarship that pays part or all of the cost of college is great deal.

Lessons learned

The list of life lessons learned by most college athletes is extremely long and it includes things like teamwork, leadership, work ethic, and time management. As freshmen, college athletes are thrown into a situation where they have to learn these traits almost immediately or they just won’t make it.

There is no better place to learn the skills of time management, selflessness and leadership than being a collegiate athlete. Also, winning with respect, losing with dignity and learning from both are lessons that last a lifetime. All of these life lessons will prepare you for the real world.

Employers are looking for 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 in their first semester on campus.

A student-athlete’s schedule includes class, homework, strength training, team meetings, conditioning, practice, travel and games. In addition, they need to find the time to eat, sleep and occasionally watch Sports Center. College athletes cram 25 hours into a 24-hour day. Any student that can pull all that off and maintain a good GPA is an excellent candidate for employment. 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 participating in 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.


At the top of my list of benefits of playing college sports are the relationships established while being part of a team. Many of your teammates will become lifelong friends. Here’s a story that best exemplifies that sentiment.

Recently, one of my friends from college was diagnosed with cancer. I was a baseball player and my friend, who was diagnosed with cancer, was a football player. We weren’t even on the same team, but we shared a bond because of the respect we had for each other as college athletes. So, we were basically teammates! Well, long story short, it was made known on Facebook that my friend had cancer. And, once his teammates found out, the outpouring of support was something I couldn’t believe. From fundraising, to the outward love and uplifting that was and is being shown, it’s obvious my friend knows he has an army backing him! He knows he is loved, and he knows his team is going to lift him up in every way possible.

Being a teammate creates a special bond. You won’t be best friends with every teammate, but you will be teammates forever.

Here’s the deal

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

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