I’m not one to recycle columns but I knew what I wanted to cover this week and then remembered I had written about it a few years ago.
The following is my column published in June 2019 and it seems appropriate for reprint now.
There has been a revisit recently to the debate about allowing college athletes to be compensated for their name and likeness. While this immediately got me excited about the possible return of NCAA Football on EA Sports, it also led me to wonder again why student athletes can’t be students of athletics.
What if a young man or woman, whose primary career focus was becoming a professional athlete, could major in their sport? Imagine the classes they could take.
Media Relations would be a helpful course. They could call it Everything You Need To Know About The Media As Taught By Crash Davis From Bull Durham.
What about a class called Building Your Brand — Lonzo Ball or Michael Jordan? These are two vastly different levels of brand building success to learn from.
The most important course an aspiring professional athlete might take could be called something like Social Media: Friend or Foe? — The Answer Is Yes.
Everyone should be required to take a diet and exercise class in grade school. In college, the course would be more advanced and titled Everyone Is An Elite Athlete At The Next Level.
How about a class called Aging Is Undefeated — What’s Next? It’s just something to remind them that if they are lucky, they will spend more of their adult life not playing sports than playing them.
That course would be the prerequisite to the next one titled Getting Out While You’re Ahead And Can Still Tie Your Shoes.
There might be a class called Coaching Or Being Coachable? — You Only Control One. This is a lesson we could all learn from whether on the field or in the office.
Sports Psychology would be a good course as would Contract Law For Beginners or Finance Management. Just something to remind them that Shawn Kemp is broke, but Bobby Bonilla is still getting paid by the Mets.
They could learn Sports History, getting to know the greats that played before them and maybe even take a class called Xs & Os. There have been thousands of books authored by hundreds of coaches over the years. The textbooks are already written.
I recognize that I made a few jokes, but I don’t believe the idea is a bad one. Young men and women can go to college to learn acting, art and philosophy. These are interesting and compelling but statistically rarely lead to financially rewarding careers. How is that different than sports?
David Friedman is a long time sports writer and lifelong fan. David can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.