Audiences laughed at the immaturity of Boobie Miles in the movie “Friday Night Lights” when the star running back said he was getting straight-A’s in his only subject, football.
Media members and fans lambasted Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones after the freshman asked why football players needed to go to class when they didn’t go to college to “play school.”
But it turns out, the football players were probably right. It’s time to allow varsity collegiate athletes to major in professional athletics.
Universities insist on the importance of the STUDENT-athlete. However, they continue to make things harder on athletes than any other segment of the student body.
No other student is prevented from taking classes and studying for their future profession. Students who want to become journalists are encouraged to major in journalism in college. Future engineers major in engineering. Even art history, classic lit, and geology majors are given the opportunity to focus on their interests while “adults” snicker about the lack of viable careers in their future.
But students who want to become professional athletes are forced into the song and dance of another major. That’s not to say athletes should be allowed to spend their entire time watching game tape and running drills. Like every other student, they would be required to attend classes and meet conditions within their major. But those classes would be tailored to a student who may have a significantly different future than a standard communications major.
What majoring in sports could look like
Like every other major, this would have its limitations. Only students participating in a varsity sport would be allowed, but not required, to major in professional athletics.
The major, in theory, would include a wide variety of classes that a professional athlete would need some grasp of to find success during and after their career. This would include, but not be limited to: journalism, marketing, accounting, kinesiology, and business courses. After completing the into classes like accounting 101, marketing 101 among others, students would be able to specialize in any of the topics they find most interesting or appealing.
These courses would allow the student to theoretically be better prepared for the social and career difficulties that so many young athletes struggle with out of college, like handling millions of dollars in an instant or navigating the social responsibilities of being out on a Saturday night. It would also prepare them for a career after athletics. There could also be hyper-specific courses that aren’t applicable to most of the outside student body. For instance, learning time management and how to deal with friends and family after a big contract are key aspects of professional sports that aren’t taught to college students.
As the NCAA was always so eager to point out, most student-athletes go pro in something other than sports. But while in school, it’s difficult to tell any young athlete that they have no chance of chasing a pro career. This major would allow those students to not only chase their dream, but give them a fall back base of knowledge if they don’t sign a pro contract. Worst case scenario, they care a little more about their classes and don’t get blind-sided by the “real world.”
Athletes will still be mixed in with much of the regular student population for intro and low-level courses, as it is with any major. But as they progress through school, these classes will be limited to only varsity athletes. Yes, the future still looks dramatically different for the star quarterback compared to the backup longsnapper, or even the Olympic sport athletes that has no professional athletics opportunities. However, this major would still give those students a chance to better learn the professional sports world, in case they wish to enter a career tangentially connected to pro sports.
With NIL laws in place, the facade of complete amateurism is gone. Now the federal government and the National Labor Relations Board are focusing on the labor rights of athletes. Schools need to stop pretending athletes are somehow both primarily there for an education and unable to prepare for a post-collegiate job. If anything, offering athletes a chance to learn how to be best prepared for a pro career would make college athletics even more desirable. After all, isn’t that the whole point of the NCAA?
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