By David Benzel
The great paradox of chasing a college scholarship is that it’s the wrong approach. Focusing one’s attention on getting an athletic scholarship by posturing, manipulating, or even talking about it all the time only lowers the likelihood of getting one.
Think of it this way: In the business world, research done by Jim Collins in his book “Built to Last” found that companies that focus on profit (a desirable outcome) are less likely to be as profitable as the companies that focus on quality products and quality service (process). They view profitability as the applause received for doing something very well. In the same way, athletes that give their attention to learning new skills, working hard, enhancing their emotional maturity, getting stronger mentally and physically (the process of improvement) increase the chances of receiving the “applause” of a college scholarship (the outcome). You don’t win baseball games by staring at the scoreboard, but by putting runners on base and driving them in to home plate.
The real question is, “What kind of athlete will do the necessary work during the high school years to make the kind of improvement required to get a scholarship?” Answer: The kind that loves their sport so much that all the hard work is viewed as enjoyable; the kind that would do the hard work even if there’s no scholarship coming – and that’s why it’s more likely to arrive.
Some people suggest that athletes should be purposefully dissuaded from wanting an athletic scholarship because of the demands placed on student athletes at the collegiate level. That’s like saying, “Life is going to be tough…you might want to sit this one out.” True love of the game inspires athletes to develop the self-discipline and the habits to handle the sacrifices necessary for the task. An athlete can also decide – and this happens frequently – that the imbalance of life for the collegiate athlete is not what they want after all. This choice is difficult to forecast and should not be imposed from the outside by a worried parent. This is a life-skills decision by someone approaching adulthood and needs to be a decision they make on their own.
The focus should be on your child becoming the strongest, most well-versed player they can be, and not on the monetary rewards or accolades they might receive.
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David Benzel is the Founder and Executive Director of Growing Champions for Life, Inc., which provides parents and coaches with practical tools & positive strategies for helping athletes reach their full potential while enjoying the youth sport experience. David is also the author of “From Chump to Champ – How Individuals Go From Good to Great” www.growingchampionsforlife.com