Paying for playing

soccer balls on field with referees surrounding them
Photo credit: Andres Aguila

A huge misconception people have about athletes is that they are lazy or not at school for the education. As an athlete playing a collegiate sport, I can say this is mostly true. There is a huge desire in college to become pro and be the best athlete one can be, but this can also bring about an athlete’s academic demise. With so much focus on the court and field, it is easy to lose track of school. It’s happened to me many times. Athletes should take education seriously and be more consistent with the opportunity they are given.

I never realized how small of a chance athletes have of going professional in their sport. According to the NCAA, as a soccer player there is a 1.4% chance of me playing professionally after completing school. For others, the chances are even smaller; for basketball players, this number is only 1.1%. These are things that athletes need to know so they can make better informed decision when they want to skip that one class.

Many people dismiss these numbers but don’t realize that they could be the statistic. Every number has a face.

As a young, nineteen-year-old athlete I had the world at my feet. I had been in talks about going pro since I was seventeen. This made life tough; people talked in my ear every week about my future. All this buzz distracted me from school. On Feb. 22nd, 2016 my life changed. I dislocated my knee, fractured my patella, fractured my hamstring and damaged every ligament and tendon in my knee. I went from a superstar, to a young adult facing surgery to save his leg. I can still remember every thought that ran through my head that day; my biggest thought was about letting everyone down who supported me and my dreams throughout my life. What did not run through my head was all the class I would miss the next day. This kind of thinking is something we are taught.

Injuries are always something that is in the back of an athlete’s mind. We tend to ignore those thoughts, and do not want to believe that the things we see and hear about will happen to us. Luckily for me my life was not over. After time of healing I realized that my future had just started. Even though it was not going to the career path of which I’d dreamed, I was still able to go to school and have a fair chance of being successful.

These types of stories are the ones athletes need to hear because it can happen to anyone. Let this be a wake up call. Prepare for not suceeding in your first career path. Athletes need a back up.

I have always been good at schoolwork and took it seriously from a very young age, but even without my injury I ran into many problems at school. School and sports do not mix and there is a big miscommunication between athletics and school. Several times, school and my sport have conflicted. No matter how good of a student you are, there are things that are out of your power.

I understand being an athlete comes ith challenges that regular students do not have. If you are in a sport that requires travel, school time will be missed and there is little you can do about that. Notes can be taken for you or office hours are available, but that never really gets the job done for one to fully comprehend what has been missed.

This might be hard for athletes to hear, but it is the truth. Athletes need to realize that there is so much more in life than their sport, and neglecting those other aspects comes with so much risk. Maybe that class that you want to skip because you’re too tired could make all the difference later.

Written by Ehi Isibor