More than 2,000 colleges, sponsored by varsity sports, from large universities such as Ohio State to smaller schools such as St. Peter’s. About 500,000 athletes play on these teams.
NCAA sponsors 24 sports ranging from baseball to water polo. There are even teams in bowling, rodeo and rugby. But most college athletes are not like Paulo Banchero of Duke or the Pigeon Bookers of Connecticut, they play professionally.
The vast majority of college athletes go back to normal work. According to the NCAA, college athletes graduate within six years at a higher rate than non-athlete students.
So college athletes take what they learn on the field (and in the classroom) into their regular lives. Thinking about it, these athletes learned a lot that helped them.
First, college athletes learn to work hard. Learning subjects like business, history and psychology is quite a challenge, but try to do it with hours of training and games.
College athletes specialize in time management. When you have to go ahead with your studies and play a sport that requires it, there is little time to get around and do anything.
College athletes know how to set goals and achieve them. No athlete, no matter how talented, can be great all at once. Improving a sport or something is a long process of making small improvements over time. Working on a crossover dribble, backstroke or backhand requires patience and determination.
If they play on a team, college athletes learn to work well with others. Like any business, any team is a group of different personalities. For a team (or business) to succeed, everyone needs to learn to fit in with their teammates.
Finally, college athletes learn to recover from failure and frustration. No one wins every game. All but two teams in the NCAA Basketball Championship go home disappointed. The ability to come back and try again (called “immunity”) is important in all areas of life.
It is important for children to remember these lessons. Many children dream of becoming NCAA sports stars. Most never. But every child who plays sports can learn to work hard, be a good teammate and recover from frustration.
Important lessons for all.
Bowen Sports writes a comment column for the Kids Post. He is the author of 27 sports books for children. His latest book is “Hard Court: 75 Years of National Basketball Association Stories”.