Saturday, December 10, 2011

Football dreams are great, but...

There is no place I’d rather be on a Friday night in the fall but at a high school football stadium under the Friday night-lights.  I love high school football because of the overall atmosphere, which includes community involvement, the intense rivalries, the enthusiastic bands, the spirited cheerleaders, and the concession stands worked by volunteer parents.
As big of a fan as I am of high school football, making good grades are even more important to me.
Players spend countless hours practicing, lifting weights, and watching film to prepare for the game.  They also need to spend just as much, if not even more time, preparing for this little thing we call “life.”
Morals, values, ethics, and life lessons should be taught at home.  Parents have the ultimate responsibility to ensure their children are making the “grade” prior to taking a step onto the playing field.  Being a high-quality student and making good grades should be the priority in the hearts and minds of high school student athletes and their parents.
No grades, no play! The role of the teacher and the coach is to aid the student athlete in the classroom and on the playing field, not to raise our children.
There are too many instances when a stud high school football player excels on the field on Friday nights, but struggles in the classroom during the week.  Fans will cheer for the star player and tell him he’s going to be the next Champ Bailey. Then a year or two later, those same fans will be asking why such a talented player isn’t playing college football?  The answer is simple; he didn’t have the grades.
Champ Bailey was undeniably a gifted student athlete, but he was also a gifted student in the classroom before stepping foot on a football field.
Reality can’t set in during the final month of your senior year in high school.  When that happens, the star player then realizes one of the following things: 1) I didn’t pass the high school graduation test, 2) I don’t have enough credits to graduate high school, 3) My grade point average is too low to get accepted into college, 4) My SAT/ACT scores are too low, 5) I didn’t take the SAT/ACT yet. 
Football can indeed provide a way to pay for college.  Those student athletes’ privileged enough to get a college scholarship should take full advantage of the opportunity to complete a college degree.  The next hit could be the one that ends a playing career and then what? 
What do you have to fall back on?  What is life going to be like after your football playing days are over?  What skills other than running, throwing or catching the ball do you have that translates into a productive career?
Think about the NCAA commercial that explains to us that yearly about 400,000 student athletes DO NOT go on to play professional sports. That means a college football player has less than a two percent chance of playing pro football, which translates into a high school football player having less than a 1 percent chance of making it to the pro’s. 
The average career for a player in the National Football League (NFL) is about three and a-half years long.  The one percent fortunate enough to make it to the league won’t be there very long.  Do the math.  The numbers won’t lie to those planning their futures around playing professional football.
You can be included in that one percent.  It could be you that is one of the approximate eight out of 10,000 high school football players to play in the NFL, however, you better have plan “B”, plan “C” and plan “D” ready to go in case things don’t fall in place.
If you have dreams of playing football in college or the NFL by all means go for it.  It can be done.  Having an education to go along with those dreams is the true way to go.  Set yourself up for success by being a superior student on and off the field. 

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