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How Can You Kick-Start Your Sports Career with College Sports?

student-athletesWhen it comes to a career in the sports industry, you can gain an immense competitive edge if you start early. You’ve probably heard that one of the best ways to gain an advantage towards a future in the industry is to take up college sports. Why? Let’s take a look.

5 Biggest Benefits of College Sports for Future Sports Professionals

We’ve listed 5 of the top reasons you should consider college sports if you’re looking for a future in the industry:

Academic Qualification

With a college degree in hand, you can be sure of a better future in any profession, as compared to just a high school certificate. According to a study conducted in 2013 by The College Board, people with a bachelor’s degree have 65% higher median lifetime earnings than high school graduates.

If you were wondering whether the same applies to people in sports, consider the fact that almost 20% of NCAA student-athletes are first-generation college students, with over 82% of them receiving a degree. Studies also show that the number of graduating student-athletes is higher than students who are not involved in college sports.

Financial Assistance

A college education can be expensive, with most graduates owing over $35,000 in student loans and debt. With over $17 billion in athletic scholarships offered in the last decade from NCAA-member colleges and universities, over 150,000 student-athletes receive financial aid every year to reduce their financial debt.

In addition to athletic scholarships, students involved in sports are also eligible for academic scholarships, federal Pell Grants, the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund and other kinds of financial aid. If they take up a part-time job while earning a degree, student-athletes are also exempt from financial aid limits that apply to other students on scholarship or aid.

Extra Support and Services

tutoring-SAIn addition to financial aid, student-athletes also receive extra support from their college in a variety of ways. For example, they are often treated to ‘training tables’ in the cafeteria on campus, sometimes with nutritionists and dietitians who are dedicated to ensuring they stay in shape!

Special academic advisors are often designated to athletes as well to go along with access to state-of-the-art coaching, technology, equipment and facilities (which can cost professional athletes thousands of dollars annually). This is because NCAA-member colleges are provided extra funds and resources as part of the Academic Enhancement Fund.

Medical Insurance and Care

In addition to the safety guidelines – rules and standards that are already in place – if you’re injured as a student-athlete, the NCAA provides insurance that covers lifetime benefits for medical expenses and other special needs. You can also have a disability insurance policy based on your potential future earnings as a sports professional, under NCAA rules.

In partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, the NCAA has also started a $30 million initiative that is intended to improve safety for student-athletes and service members. This includes a first-of-its-kind comprehensive study of concussion and head impact exposure.

Skills and Experience

College sports help you develop a unique skill set that is invaluable for the future; like leadership, time management, teamwork and dedication to the task at hand. Whether you’re working in sports or another industry, these skills will give you an instant edge when you’re competing for a job!

As a student-athlete, you may also enjoy many opportunities for national and international travel during regular-season games, NCAA championships and foreign tours. These open up the possibility for far greater exposure to your sports career than you could manage on your own.

Extra Credit

We’ve also listed some other things that you should know about college athletics:

  • college sportsCollege sports are not limited to football or basketball games, but in fact encompass a wide range of athletic pursuits. If you’re a swimmer, wrestler, golfer, gymnast, or have any other interest in sports and athletics, you could find your niche in college.
  • Many colleges offer varsity-level sports, where student-athletes can represent their college and compete against others. College varsity sports also normally include some funding from the athletic department or a sports association so that they can offer scholarships and aid.
  • As a varsity athlete, you can learn how to juggle sports and studies effectively. If you’re on a scholarship and don’t meet the academic requirements, you could lose the scholarship or financial aid you’ve been offered.
  • You could play in club or intramural leagues while you’re in college, even if you’re not a varsity athlete. Club teams are normally run by students and compete against other clubs from different colleges, while intramural leagues are less competitive, matching up different teams within the same college.
  • Most college varsity sports are supervised by sports associations like the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) or NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics). The NCAA is the largest and best known organization, with 3 levels of college sports:

Division I – If your college competes in this super-competitive division, it must offer part or full sports scholarships to student-athletes.
Division II – A little less competitive, with very few colleges offering full sports scholarships, but some financial aid is normally included for student-athletes.
Division III – Does not include financial aid since it is the least competitive division, but can help when you’re applying for a degree.

College sports have gained popularity and are televised on a regular basis with high fan base, along with regular loyal viewership. If you are focused on your sports career and get into a college sport early on, you also get a kick-start by being broadcasted. This way you are already in the eyes of the sports casters and you are gaining familiarity with the nation watching you. This is a big plus along with all the other pros and advantages that are listed above, proving that college sports can most definitely prove to be a successful gateway into a sports career.

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