The dream for many athletes is to one day be able to represent a team at the collegiate level. While it is still a gateway into many prestigious universities, the value of being a student athlete can often be understated.
College athletics tend to be unfairly compared to professional sports, leading to the assumption that they are inferior. While professional sports will always have the better players, college athletics brings with it an unparalleled community.
College sports tend to have a shorter season, resulting in each game being more important, with fans and players being more engaged since each game matters. Also, the players from your favorite university will be a part of that team for the duration of their college career. Many will return for future games and events for the university, creating a culture where fans and players alike feel connected to the university team at a deeper level than a professional sport can ever reach.
The postseason play for college sports can also be some of the best entertainment you can find anywhere. March Madness, for example, has 68 teams play a single elimination tournament for the winner, resulting in many upsets and the feeling that anyone has a chance to win it all.
Another underrated aspect of college athletics is the academics. College athletics demand a large sum of time from the student, with some sports requiring more than 40 hours per week in dedicated time. That, mixed with a 12+ credit semester can make for very limited free time. This lack of remaining time can be arduous to overcome, but they also force athletes to master time management to succeed in their academics, thus adding in an extra layer of stress to the athlete.
College athletics can be considered a purer product than professional sports as the players are not being paid. This creates an environment where athletes are playing for the team and the college instead of for the next contract or shoe deal.
Players take classes and are members of the university, so students can make connections with the athletes that would never happen with your favorite professional athlete. You won’t find yourself in biology class with Lebron James.
College athletics is unpredictable and dynamic, making it underrated compared to professional athletics.Isaac Scafe: College Sports are Overrated
College sports have become a stable part of the college experience, whether you’re a fan attending the game or you’re a student-athlete trying to balance studies and practice at the same time. But, there comes a point where college teams become overrated. When the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns went winless during 2008 and 2017 NFL seasons respectively, many believed that the NCAA’s best football teams could beat them. However, a college team could not compete against a team full of professional players as most players on a college team won’t make it onto a pro team.
While the rule changes between college and professional football are minimal at best, the talent level difference teams face is not. At the end of each season, college football awards the Heisman Trophy to the season’s best player. Over the past 81 years of the award’s history, only nine recipients have made the Football Hall of Fame. Although the most recent Heisman winners have yet to show how well they will do in the NFL, being the best player in college doesn’t guarantee success.
College basketball also awards the Naismith award for the best college player with the likes of Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant winning the trophy. At the same time, winners include Jimmer Fredette, Tyler Hansbrough and Doug McDermott, players who are either no longer in the NBA or hardly contribute. Just being good in college doesn’t mean you have what it takes to compete against the professionals.
The coaches at the college level are no exception to the term overrated. Coaches at the top sports schools like Nick Saban and John Calipari have agreed to multi-year deals that’ll pay them more than most players. Yet, college coaches have had a hard time in the pros. Chip Kelly, a highly successful coach for the Oregon football team, only lasted three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly joins a long list of college coaches that tried to coach in the NBA and NFL, only to fail. The NBA and NFL games are drastically different strategically as opposed to college sports, where the play is often simplified.
Players from the top programs are talented and deserve the praise that they receive. Despite how well a team might do in college, there is no comparing them to a professional sports team. The pros are quicker, more physical and are a team full of professionals, not college students. While a team in the NBA or NFL might be having a bad season, there’s no need to rate a college team to their level.