The recent news of American swimmer Katie Ledecky opting for a professional career in swimming rather than completing her degree at Stanford has raised the question of whether or not professional athletes value an education.
The balance between sport and studies is a difficult debate due to varying viewpoints. America boasts some of the best colleges in the world for sports, as well as academics. However, the sports side is dominating academics as coaches and colleges push their student athletes on the field, but lack the push in the classroom.
The NCAA ignores the fact that some degrees are more beneficial than others in the long run and will assist their students later in life. Instead, they place them into general studies which allows them to focus on their sport. This type of degree is next to useless for a worthy career which athletes may need to fall back on should a horrific injury occur.
John Sollenberger ’21 notes, “It’s always good to have a degree in case your career ends ear-ly due to injury but I don’t think it’s needed. They are going to have a career in their sport if they are talented enough and will make more than almost any college degree will ever get them.”
For any athlete wishing to make it into American sports, they come to the United States without the intention of getting a degree. The NCAA figures that due to its high graduation rate, they are doing a huge favour for these athletes when in actuality all they are doing is looking over the problem and passing it on to the next person.
Men’s Soccer Coach Caleb Davis agrees with this method that professional athletes do not need a degree for their athletic career. Using the basketball system as an example, Davis comments, “The recent trend in ‘one and done’ is a perfect example. These students come to a college just for one year and then bounce to the NBA. Most of them never graduate with a degree.”
Moreover, the controversial Ball family have made this abandonment of college the new style as they play professionally in Lithuania for a year then are drafted without the need to go to college.
In contrast, some professional athletes are promoting a different attitude and advocating for a return to school for athletes to finish their college degrees. This is prevalent in the NHL as Pitts-burgh Penguins duo Brian Dumoulin and Jake Guentzel both completed their degrees in marketing and multidisciplinary studies respectively. It is easier for athletes to transition into the corporate or business world if they have a formal education and some credentials behind them for employers to see. The dream job cannot last forever, making it important for athletes to acquire a degree or some form of training to help them succeed when they retire.