Caleb Lefeber

Are college athletics a waste of time? There are some critics of D-1 athletics who believe that participating in college sports is not the best use of time.  Deron Snyder believes that college athletics are a waste of time for many: “It’s disingenuous to act like all student-athletes are created equal. There’s a reason why top top-tier men’s basketball and football athletes languish at the bottom of the NCAA graduation rates. College isn’t for everyone.” They argue that college sports are a waste of time because the chances of making it to the professional level for any sport is so slim, college students should not waste time even playing sports. That college athletics take up to much time and it causes players to fail in the classroom. However, college athletics aren’t a waste of time because they teach the athletes many valuable life skills. Some of the things college athletics can teach students include how to work with others, responsibility, to take action on themselves, work ethic and time management skills. While the chances of going pro are slim, there are still many life lessons and valuable life skills (talked about later in the paper)  which are taught throughout the college athletics experience that are helpful on and off the field, such as in the classroom or working environment. Even though a good percentage of college athletes don’t go pro, college athletics still help students transform into well rounded people.

College athletics teach the students how to work with other people as a team/ group. It gives them a chance to make new friendships, which can last a lifetime as they build great memories throughout their college experience. Those teammates eventually become a part of the students’ family, and they have to get to know one another in order to play as a team and succeed in their season.  They learn how to communicate with one another in order to know what is going on in games and in practice, and this is a valuable skill that is necessary to have. It prepares college athletes for the real world in college and after college when you have to communicate with your coworkers, your boss and your customers. It will also help inside the classroom because the players are always around other students and teachers communicating. Also, if there are any group projects which require talk between group members, the players will be ready since they are used to working with other people. Sports allow the players to develop the role as a leader by helping out other members of their team. Playing college sports will make memories that students will never forget, they will remember the ups and downs they went through with their family, throughout their college athletics experience. Robert J. Sternberg believes that college athletics will make memories that players will never forget:  “For many alumni, competitive athletics provide some of the most salient memories. Though the recollections are not always pleasant.” College athletics will be one of the best time of their lives as they make long lasting friendships and develop these skills to help them succeed in the future.

Additionally, college athletics teach players to be responsible and take initiative, to bring their best effort all the time. It teaches responsibility because players have to learn their individual role and execute their commitments so their team does well. If the athlete makes a mistake, it could affect the outcome of the sporting event. This causes players to know their role and take on responsibilities for themselves because the team needs them to do their part. It teaches players a strong work ethic, since they train hard every day to improve for their teammates. This is a very important tool to have in life. Robert J. Sternberg believes that athletics builds players to become leaders: “These might include traits and skills such as strategic and tactical planning, persistence, sensible risk-taking, resilience, self-discipline, time management, a sense of fairness, teamwork, an understanding of one’s adversaries, and sportsmanship.” In a sport there are certain roles for each one of the players, and for their team to succeed each player has to know their own role and execute it to perfection. Outside of sports, such as in a job, work ethic is helpful because people need to know what it’s like to be fully committed to something and work as hard as they can. Each employee has their own job/role. The employees have to know their role and work hard in order for the job to get done. These are fantastic qualities to have as an employee from a boss’s perspective, just as it would for a player from a coach’s perspective.

Another reason college athletics isn’t a waste of time is because it teaches students the physical, emotional and social skill sets. For the physical aspect sports gets the players in good physical shape. Who doesn’t want to be strong, muscular, fit…? Exactly, pretty much every one wishes that they were in shape and fit. While playing a sport in college, players will be in the best shape of their lives.Robert J. Sternberg also believes that college athletics will get athletes in fantastic shape: “Research over the past decade increasingly shows the amazing correlation between lifetime fitness and better adult health and longevity. Mental decline, not just physical deterioration, has been tied to lack of physical exercise and healthy nutrition. Many of the habits we acquire in college become the behaviors we maintain over a lifetime.”Athletes get to be/ stay in shape year round just from being in the sport, not to mention that they are having a fun time while being in the sport. The emotional aspect will teach players how to deal with stress and how to fight through tough times. They can relieve their stress while playing their sport and by lifting or working out. They have to deal with criticism from their coaches, teammates, fans and other players. This makes them into a stronger player/person mentally and prepares them for the real world when they have to deal with criticism from their bosses, coworkers and customers. Also it makes the players better socially. It helps them communicate with their fellow teammates and coaches, the have to be on the same page as one another to succeed. These three aspects helps to develop the players into well rounded people.

Last college athletics teaches students how to manage their time. Player’s schedules are a lot tighter than most people and they have a lot less time do free activities and homework than others. This is a lot tougher than it looks. Right after the players get done with school they go to practice, after practice they lift, then the go back to their dorms shower and head to dinner. By this time it’s already dark out which leaves them with a limited amount of time to do homework because they have to get enough rest for the next day for the same routine. Cassie Sullivan wrote about how college athletes need to learn how to manage their time: “By balancing out schoolwork, practice, studying and games, athletes learn time management and how to work out time commitments in their schedules.” She talks about how tough it is to have both a college education and play a college sport. That since their schedules are so tight they need to learn good time management and how to make schedules to plan their days out. This allows them to make a schedule to plan out events easier so when they get back from practice they are better prepared for what they have to do.

Even though many think that college athletics are a waste of time, they are not. Athletics do this by teaching the players how to work with other people as a team/ group, teaching players to be responsible and take action on themselves, teaching students the physical, emotional and social skill sets and teaching students how to manage their time. College athletics better prepares the players outside the sport and develops the athletes into well rounded people.


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