As you are sitting with the crowd, representing your school wearing black and gold, you witness the players run up and down the field or court as if their life depended on it. Seeing the determination in their eyes to play the best they can to win adds to the heart-stopping moments you can’t get watching professional sports.
The drive collegiate players have leads them to work and play harder than professional athletes. They are working to keep their scholarships, attract scouts that will give them opportunities, or they are playing for themselves and their families.
Professional athletes could be playing until they retire, making money whether they play in the game or not, and sometimes they make the decision of putting the game before their family.
The Washington Post published an article arguing that college sports provide student athletes with life lessons over championships.
“College athletes learn to bounce back from defeat and disappointment,” the article reads. “No one wins every game. Every team in the NCAA basketball championships, except two, goes home disappointed. The ability to come back and try again (called ‘resilience’) is important in all parts of life.”
College students who also play sports learn more life lessons from the game and continue to push themselves and their teammates to bounce back and keep fighting no matter the outcome. As a team, they are all working towards the same goal, pushing each other to become better to achieve those goals.
Professional athletes, on the other hand, aren’t always working together as a team to achieve their goals. College athletes work harder to become better students, athletes, teammates, friends and leaders. This all contributes to the skills they develop for their future careers, which rarely entails making it to the pros.
It’s easy to see all the hard work college athletes are putting in when you see them playing. The team comes together to celebrate, cheering each other on from the bench. Unfortunately, you don’t always get to see those moments in the pros.
Referees also hold college athletes more accountable when it comes to the rules. Between Lebron James and Russel Westbrook, I don’t think we can even count as high as the number of travels those two athletes have had. College athletes are being more closely watched and they will get called even for those rules that seem small.
In that sense, I also find that college athletes respect the game more. If a foul is called, they might question the call, but they will usually move on and work even harder to make up for their mistake.
If professional athletes are called for a foul, they yell at the other player and referees and argue about why it was called before they get rejected. That doesn’t matter though, because they will still make enough money from the five minutes they played to pay all their bills.
I appreciate the dedication, motivation, drive and respect college athletes have for the games they choose to play. Being a student athlete isn’t easy, but they always make it look easy.
I enjoy sitting in the stands watching players fight for their spot on the court, seeing their teammates’ expressions when they create great plays and being a part of the celebration at the end of a hard fight — regardless of the outcome.
Image from unsplash.com.