Our Opinion: Athletes should get degree before going pro

Last Updated on


How often do you turn on the television to ESPN and hear about a 19-year-old athlete deciding to go professional in his or her sport? It seems that the traditional four year college experience for athletes has almost completely changed.

There are many pros and cons in going pro without obtaining a degree first. The pros; Yes, you make millions of dollars, you get to travel and play the sport you love on television. But the cons are: between the ages of 18 and 21, are you aware of how to handle hundreds of dollars being thrown at you? Do you have a reliable agent that will manage your money? What about if you get injured and you don’t have a guaranteed contract?  A college degree is more dependable than money temporarily.

With the years of a professional athlete’s career beginning to shorten, why not get a degree? In football, most are lucky enough to play 10 years but what’s next? A college degree can help you attain a job for a lifetime while professional sports are temporary.

Many athletes say that they will go back and get their college degree after they retire from their prospective sport. But let’s be honest: after earning millions of dollars over a span of years why you need a degree? But what about if an injury occurs after you get that first big paycheck? Then that degree can become very valuable.

Look at Jay Williams, a former four year college basketball player and graduate of Duke University, he suffered a major motorcycle accident that ended his career but luckily he had a degree to fall back on. Now he is a sports analyst and is still making a good salary.

Until 2003, basketball players could leave straight from high school and declare for the NBA draft. Superstars such as: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and Kevin Garnett are some notable players that decided to chase the big bucks at the age of 18. Luckily enough these players have dominated in the pros.

Many of these coaches that give out scholarships to these athletes as an investment that they will stay at their university for four years and help their athletic program excel, but college athletics has really changed.

Major college basketball programs such as Duke University, University of Kentucky and the University of North Carolina are known for players leaving after one season to go pro.

The NCAA has tried to adjust the rules for the better as college football athletes are now required to stay in college for at least two years while potential NBA players are also required to stay in college for two years.

Athletes want to chase the big bucks but an education is a valuable asset to have in life and can go a long way after not being able to perform those same athletic abilities when you begin to age.

Many parents might have said to always have a plan A, B and C right? Let’s not only think about the present but our future as well.