Through my experience playing in the NFL and being a union representative for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I saw first-hand what happens to athletes when their playing days come to an end and they haven't prepared for their second career. A very small percentage of athletes make it to the pros. Of those who do, a smaller percentage play long enough to retire comfortably for the rest of their lives.
In the NFL alone, the average career is only 3.5 years. You don't qualify to become an unrestricted free agent (where the big contracts are usually signed) until you have played four years.
There are a lot of sad stories about pro athletes who didn't prepare themselves enough for life after their sports career is over. Don't let that happen to you. It is a long shot to play professional sports. However, going to college, playing the sport you love and getting a great education will provide you with an incredible experience that will carry you through the rest of your life.
No matter what sport you play, your coach develops plays that you use to help the team win. Most teams have a playbook. Being a student-athlete and trying to have a game plan for college requires its own "playbook." The NCAA has done a great job trying to take the burden off of athletes and parents by creating a game plan to follow. The process to get into college can be overwhelming. However, using the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete is a very smart thing to do.
Have you gone to NCAAStudent.org site? It is a really cool interactive site. It is essentially a playbook with information about being an NCAA student-athlete.
The site itself was designed to look like a playbook. It is a three-ring binder that "is dedicated to helping you understand the balance between academics and sports required of every student-athlete for a successful life in school, and out. Here you can learn about the NCAA, download the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete, and discover how you can go pro in something other than sports."
When you go to the site, the first words that you read are: There are over 380,000 student-athletes, and just about every one of them will go pro in something other than sports.
I really enjoy the emphasis that the NCAA has put on "going pro" in something other than sports. The inside folder pocket has an envelope with pictures that open to the television commercials they have played.
I certainly was not aware of the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete when I was in high school and there wasn't an interactive website for me to review. The site and its design effectively simplify the information.
This playbook discusses:
- Amateurism-Eligibility Requirements
- Academic-Eligibility Requirements
- Core Course, GPA, Tests, Special Conditions
- NCAA Eligibility Center
- Questions to Ask as You Consider Colleges
- Information for Parents and Guardians
- Details for High School Counselors and Athletic Administrators
- Recruiting Regulations
The media gives a lot of emphasis to professional athletes and thus every kid wants to grow up to be one. I can tell you personally that although it is a great experience, it sometimes is not all that it is cracked up to be.
So check out the site, read it, download the playbook and follow it. I am confident that if you follow the plays in this playbook you will be successful.
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Michael Husted played nine seasons in the NFL, most notably as a kicker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is the creator of Active Recruiting, which connects athletes and coaches with interactive video profiles online.