It’s an odd conundrum. Athletes spend their entire early years shooting baskets, throwing and catching balls, running tracks and courses – dreaming of living lives of pro-athletes or even college athletes. And then it’s all thrown to a halt.
That ugly day when reality takes over and the realization that going pro or even playing for a Division I program might be a pipe dream. It’s a dreadful day.
But you can’t leave the sport. The sport is all you know. Our athletic abilities aren’t getting us anywhere, and we’re about to be knee-deep in loans.
Some of us choose to attend smaller schools and continue to flirt with that athletic dream, while others leave it all and choose education over the unlikely possibility of going pro from a D-III school.
You start scavenging for a career or just a job within the business. A career that’s really just boosting the egos of the athletes. But from your perspective at the moment, that’s the least of your concerns.
It dawns on you, and hits you like a brick wall, you can write. You can write about anything, you enjoy writing. And most of all, you can write about sports.
And thats where I am right now.
However, my sport of cross country doesn’t ever officially come to a halt, because there’s marathons, tri-athalons and other activities. But it’s still a big leap.
I’m a writer for a college newspaper, which means who I interview and who I write about are also college students. The fact that we’re both the same age isn’t really the issue. It’s the same way when you get to the pro level, being the same age as the athlete you’re staring at is just as common.
The issue lays in the fact that often times these athletes are already high strung, exemplifying egos that come with the territory of being celebrated for their athletic abilities since an early age.
And all I’m doing, or any other student writer taking so much interest into athlete’s lives and what they do, is feeding their ego a hardy thanksgiving meal each week.
And for what? Yes, some have earned it. Some dominate their respected sport, but what about the ones that aren’t dominating? What about the ones that sit on a flimsy D-I program, don’t win many games and yet their campus community celebrates them?
Sports journalists are OK with canceling their dinner plans for the chance of a big story. We’re OK with sitting through press conferences just waiting for the possibility of getting a chance to ask a question.
The NCAA has done research in the past and their findings are nothing short of what you would expect – 52 percent of D-I football players believe they will go pro, but reality? Only 1.6 percent ever do.
And that’s just the cream of the crop.
In other arenas, 63 percent of D-I men’s hockey players believe they’ll go pro, with just 0.8 percent of them moving on to anything else. And D-I men’s basketball is even more staggering with 76 percent of them believing they’ll go pro, while only 1.2 percent ever dribble in an NBA arena.
Where are these beliefs coming from? Are we the ones who are at fault? Have people like me gone too far? Probably.
ESPN broadcasts high school games. High schools are starting to build professional-level locker rooms and stadiums for athletes. Many colleges would be nothing without their athletic programs. It’s a vicious circle, a circle that for most of us ends in sorrow and disappointment.
I grew up as an athlete and went through the system of high school sports. I was praised by coaches and had people put unrealistic scenarios into my mind and it’s instilled a bit of unearned confidence into me.
A confidence that once made me feel as though I not only had a chance, but that I had a decent chance at going pro. And although my path has changed, that bit of unearned confidence is still brewing.
It’s just pouring from other outlets, and showing in different facets of my life.
The transition from athlete to writer isn’t much of a transition at all. It’s just a change in settings.