Yesterday the nation was on the edge of their seats as Florida State beat Clemson in an overtime thriller. Suspended star quarterback Jameis Winston watched nervously from the sideline as his team narrowly escaped defeat in one of the best games of the college football season thus far. The scene was incredible as it always is in Tallahassee. I thought to myself, “it is really quite amazing that a college football game can generate so much excitement”.
The landscape of sports is ever changing. Athletes have grown bigger and stronger and this trend is set to continue as training and technology gets more advanced. Many youth athletes are now training year round, hiring professional trainers, and joining advanced travel teams at an earlier age.
College recruiting has turned into a circus. Coaches travel the country often calling, texting, and messaging high school coaches hundreds of times. Good recruiting is essential to success in college sports and coaches are finding new creative ways to attract to talent. With the NCAA regulating everything from how many visits a prospect can take to how many texts they can send, recruiting has also become one of the most stressful processes in college athletics. Wouldn’t it be easier if we made prospects have to pick a school in their home state? That would spice things up a bit.
Typically the lifecycle of an athlete usually ends at the collegiate level. Some athletes train their entire lives seemingly unable to comprehend that their career will eventually end and that they will soon be thrust into the pool of the NARP’S (non- athletic regular people). Even those fortunate enough to play at the professional level will eventually have their careers end and be forced to find a life after sports. What many fail to realize is that being a college athlete is much more than the present benefits it provides, but about the long term lessons learned during the process.
Athletes develop a natural competitive drive and are masters at channeling this energy. I’ve never met an athlete who has trained to be average. As an athlete you are training to be the best and learning how to channel your competitiveness and push yourself to be great. An Internal drive to excel is a special quality. Athletics also provide countless other life lessons. Sports provide a great platform to reverse negative situations and use them as motivation. Athletes learn first-hand about the advantages of eating healthy, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There are also the benefits of learning how to effectively weight train. These lesson and skills may seem basic to many athletes but are not common knowledge for the average person. You would be amazed at how many people don’t work out because the simply don’t know how.
Athletes learn a very valuable skill of how to work with those they may not like, and maybe the most important of all the lessons they learn is how to mentally attack situations. Learning how to master the mind is one of the most important life skills. Mental battles are some of the biggest battles we fight in our adult lives. I always find it sad to see those who limit themselves mentally. One cannot achieve something if they don’t first see it possible in their mind. In other words, if you are unable to imagine that you can shoot the ball through the hoop then you can’t even allow your mind to configure a way to do it.
The real lessons and benefits of being an athlete lie within the experiences, skills, and traits developed through the process. While there is no denying that the free tuition, free meals, recognition from friends and family, and game days are all great perks to being an athlete, those benefits are temporary. The countless lessons learned during the process of becoming an athlete are the benefits that will stick with you throughout your life. Those who are able to recognize and apply these skills and traits they learn throughout their athletic career will have a great opportunity to be successful in life beyond sports.
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