For most athletes, their journey in sports ends in high school. The NCAA estimates to consistently have around 480,000 student athletes in contrast to the nearly eight million athletes competing in high school each year. As painful as that is for many, that’s the reality.
Sports are a way of life, so adjusting to a life without them can be difficult. Despite the idea being a tough pill to swallow, it can also provide relief. Former athletes who spent their whole lives playing sports have a newfound freedom entering college. They no longer have morning workouts, afternoon practice, games or a need for personal training off the field or court. This extra time can be used to do things that the student didn’t have time for as an athlete. Current junior Jake Wright, who played basketball and golf in high school, shared his thoughts.
“I still do the same thing I used to in high school. I still keep up with sports and play golf in my free time. I have more time obviously, but I have to do other things with that time. School is tougher, and that is my obligation right now. I have more time to hang out with friends and go out. It’s different, but it has its benefits. You can do other things instead of having practice, but you can still play certain sports when you want.”
College is not only a chance to further one’s education, but also a place to discover new passions. If simple freedom can’t fill the hole left by the absence of sports, college provides other solutions. There are many ways to get involved and find new activities. There are also many outlets similar to sports that can patch the wound.
Intramural sports are the most obvious solution to the problem. Students can attain a similar sense of competition and achievement through them. Intramural sports also allow students to experience the game like they did as kids. The expectation to work hard and win is no longer as serious, so students are able to relax a bit and have more fun.
Another simple solution is staying in shape. All Auburn students have access to the Auburn University Recreation and Wellness Center. Here, students can keep up their workout regimens. They can also play pickup basketball, indoor soccer, racquetball and more. This may not be the level of competition former athletes are accustomed to, but it at least provides a way for them to improve their fitness and compete.
College also provides many opportunities to get involved outside of sports. The decision of which to get involved in depends on the student’s preference, but there are many organizations and activities to choose from. The most obvious is joining a fraternity, sorority or club. There are also many events to attend such as sporting events and campus events. Another way to get involved and possibly further one’s career is interning or working a job.
The main thing former athletes need to realize is life is not over. A big part of it may be done, but a new chapter is about to begin. The next step in the process is translating the passion for sports into a new objective. As long as that objective is healthy and beneficial, the determination instilled in athletes will drive them to success.