Written by Vin McCaffrey
When I was in the 6th grade and it snowed, I used to shovel the court to play basketball. I kept it up through high school before heading out to Lehigh. I loved basketball. I never thought much of it. It was just something I did. A labor of love.
Last week, the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes hosted a career fair for their football team. Coach Meyer, whom I admire and respect greatly, said, “Who doesn’t want to hire a guy who knows about selflessness, being a part of a team, commitment, time management and most importantly, solving issues in front of 30 million people on television, if that’s how many watched our game with Oregon. Or 110,000 people when our guys go to work on Saturday. Everybody wants to hire those guys.”
Coach Meyer is absolutely right. No doubt about it.
There are nearly 500,000 collegiate student-athletes competing nationally. Although there are a very few individuals fortunate enough to play in program’s like Coach’s in front of audiences like the Buck’s do, I believe every one of those 500,000 student-athletes have stories similar to mine. They shoveled their own snow.
They start very young, they compete, they sacrifice, they reach their goal of playing college athletics and they continue to compete. And when they reach the workforce, they will continue to compete.
About a year and a half ago, when our team was researching the student-athlete identity, we learned the vast majority of college athletes begin playing their sport before the age of 10. In sports like swimming, gymnastics and tennis – those kids frequently start competing closer to the age of 5.
To put this context, prior to entering college, these young people spent nearly half their life learning values, as Coach Meyer outlined so well: “selflessness, being a part of a team, commitment and time management.”
So in a sense, for these select individuals, college athletics is an advanced degree.
A master’s degree in commitment.
A PHD in time management.
Finishing school on how to receive feedback constructively.
An experiential MBA in teamwork and leadership.
GTG celebrates the student-athlete and the student-athlete experience. It is an experience that has a life-long impact for a select group of people that have worked so very hard to earn it.