Many sports parents today work diligently at creating the optimal sport training paradigm so that their child can maximize athletic skills, while at the same time be “showcased” to potential future college recruiting coaches through travel leagues, clubs, and elite-level tournaments. Unfortunately, the odds are against most families when it comes to college athletic scholarships, as only about 5% of all high school athletes will ever go on to receive a partial- or full-athletic D1 scholarship. For the families who are fortunate enough to receive athletic scholarship money through the luxury of college recruitment, it may still be worthwhile to fully process what the scholarship expectations are once the child begins his athletic scholarship obligation. Athletic pressure, if not addressed, can lead to many on and off-field future problems (Positive Transitions for Student Athletes).
Of course, it goes without saying that earning a college athletic scholarship is certainly something to be proud of, and can lead to many invaluable college experiences for the recipient. For a young person to be able to compete at the highest level of amateur sports in America is something only a small percentage of people can ever claim to do, but there are also very high expectations for this unique experience.
Few families today truly realize how serious college sports have become, and the enormous amount of time and energy that is required in order for the student athlete to earn his or her athletic scholarship. Simply put, the requirements go far beyond just playing a game or two each week. For most student athletes, the experience is very much like a full-time job, with year-round training requirements (expected even when they are out of season).
Division I student athletes are required to keep a full course load like other students on campus, but have the additional requirements from their sport that can be extremely challenging to meet. In addition to games, there are regular practices, training days in the weight room, travel, and study table obligations. For many young athletes and their parents, they are not aware of these requirements, and consequently only see the glamorous side of college athletics.
Being a student athlete on athletic scholarship can be a tremendous experience, but the opportunity definitely comes with a high cost when you consider the enormous time and energy commitments. Likening the experience to an intense, full-time job is a very fair comparison, as many college athletes have told me they never knew that being a college athlete required so much time and effort. Throw into the mix family, relationships, internships, and various other social interests and activities, you can easily see how some college student athletes become overwhelmed by balancing their sport with other life endeavors.
The best advice for a potential future athletic scholarship winner is to first determine the level of passion and commitment the student athlete has for his or her sport. At the DI level, student athletes must really love doing their sport, otherwise the requirements will become quite taxing – and possibly overwhelming.