“Everyone has the desire to win, but only champions have the desire to prepare.” – Author Unknown.
There are various ways in which students can gain access to university education. These include family funds, loans, grants, part-time jobs, academic scholarships, and athletic scholarships. I am using “athletic scholarships” as a broad term which covers scholarships awarded in track and field disciplines as well as in many other sports, such as football and basketball. There are full and partial athletic scholarships. Full-ride athletic scholarships generally cover tuition, fees, room, board, and books.
In these days of high and still rising university costs, athletic scholarships are becoming more and more attractive as an avenue to university degrees for those who can earn them through a combination of good academic performance and outstanding athletic ability. For some financially challenged students, this may be the only way to get into a university. In my former school we had a deliberate and successful policy of preparing many students for athletic scholarships in American universities. We also cultivated partnerships with certain athletic clubs and parents, to facilitate this process. This, however, did not stop us from seeking to gain academic scholarships as well, but in our case the athletic scholarships outnumbered the academic.
When students attend university on athletic scholarships, their involvement and performance as athletes serve as payment for their education. They also help the university to make a lot of money and earn bragging rights. Students must maintain good grades, train hard and compete against rival teams on a regular basis. This is not easy and it demands total commitment.
Students on athletic scholarships also benefit from the support system provided by coaches, team members, and other sports administrators. Medical care is also included. There are many opportunities to travel and broaden their horizons as they compete on a home and away or abroad basis.
After graduation many well-known athletes find it easy to land jobs because of the contacts they made with influential people while they were representing the university in their chosen sport. They impress many potential employers. They also find that several of the skills and traits they developed as athletes are very useful in professional life. We are talking here about assets such as vision, teamwork, self-confidence, calmness under stress, critical thinking, decision-making and competitiveness. These qualities are valued in many career fields.
Finally, after graduation, students who had athletic scholarships are generally free of significant debt and they are not bonded to work for the government or any other entity for any period of time.
In my view, athletic scholarships are as good as academic scholarships in today’s difficult economic conditions and they can be used to study a wide range of disciplines.