Sports can complement education

The benefits of sports aren’t just physical. High school student-athletes who continue their sport into college gain valuable skills that enhance their education and help them in their future careers.

By SAM ONDO

KENNESAW, Ga. — Students who play sports during their time in high school and college learn group skills that can help them in their lives. They learn early on how to compete, how to be part of a team, and many other valuable skills that will help them in their future careers.

Young adults who continue on after high school also continue to sharpen these skills as well as improve their time management.

Chase Burnfin, a current graduate student in the accounting program at Kennesaw State University, attributes the skills and determination he possesses now to his playing for both his high school baseball team and at the collegiate level for the Georgia Southwestern Hurricanes.

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Chase Burnfin in his Georgia Southwestern baseball shirt (Photo by Sam Ondo)

“I think that I would be a lot worse off now in graduate school if I hadn’t played,” Burnfin said. “Back when I played I would have to balance practice, games, workouts, traveling, and anything else baseball related on top of all of the studying and homework I had to do.”

Time management is one of the biggest issues that student-athletes have to overcome in order to both play sports and keep their GPA up. Not only is time management an important student-athlete skill, but it’s also an important skill for everybody to have in life and in different careers.

Life After Sports

Unless college athletes become pro athletes, there is always going to be an end to a student-athlete’s playing career. Most people treat both parts of the student-athlete life equally because they know this reality and know that they will eventually have careers.

Until they reach graduation and start the job hunt, sports become a student-athlete’s career.

Most student-athletes put a lot of effort into their then careers and are rewarded by learning and forging necessary life skills. Chris Clark, a receiving manager at The Home Depot store in Kennesaw, found many of the skills he had learned while playing club sports at his alma mater Kennesaw State University.

“Playing sports really taught me how to communicate effectively with my teammates,” says Clark. “It was such a family environment that you never wanted to hurt anybody by talking to them or explaining something they did wrong.”

Clark explained that he uses this communication technique every day at his job. He says that teaching new associates things at work is exactly like coaching teammates on how to execute better.

More Education than Distraction

For so many college sports fans and just sports fans in general, sports are a welcome distraction to the issues in their lives. Instead of thinking about work or problems, people can simply turn on a game and tune out of the world for a little bit.

For student-athletes sports also provide this distraction and relief from the struggles and annoyances of daily life. Sports also provide a place to create new relationships and express frustrations in a healthier way.

“Lots of my friends I still have now are all connected to me because of sports,” said Burnfin. “It really helped me to become better at socializing and communicating, even with people I don’t know. It taught me how to be a leader and to be held accountable for myself.”

Leadership, communication, knowing how to compete, learning how to succeed and fail, teamwork, and so many other vital skills can be directly linked to sports. Young adults get to learn all these skills without even feeling pressured to study and learn.

Getting Involved in Sports at School

Student-athletes can learn vital life and career skills by playing sports in both high school and college. Some student-athletes who are lucky enough can continue their high school sports career into college by getting recruited. However this is not the only way to get involved.

A large number of students at every college gets involved in sports by playing at both the club and intramural levels.

“Playing a sport was always competitive for me,” said Clark. “It didn’t matter to me that my games weren’t televised and I didn’t have fans chanting my name. I played club sports every year that I was at Kennesaw and I don’t think it could have been any better for me.”

Colleges have plenty of varsity level sports which have walk-on spots for student-athletes that have enough skill, but for those who don’t or just don’t wish to commit as much time, club and intramural sports provide the same environment with less commitment.

Most schools will have a recreation center or office that handles all club and intramural sports that students can visit. Most schools, such as Kennesaw State University, have a website devoted to these programs and can help students find sports, teams, or activities that suit them.

Even those students who don’t want to play the traditional sports such as basketball, baseball, or football can get involved and learn these skills as well. Many schools have teams for such sports and activities as ultimate Frisbee, paintball, rugby, and so many more.

The best way to get involved is to go look for something that looks interesting and to go do it. Not only will playing provide entertainment and gain you some new friends, but necessary life and career skills will be developed and sharpened as a result.

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