I’m a big sports fan, have been for years. As March Madness (the greatest 3 weeks in sports) winds down, I am however painfully reminded of the disconnect that exists between college and pro athletes. There is a beauty that comes with watching college athletes, even high school athletes, as opposed to the pros.
The beauty that exists is obvious to me…its desire, it’s a will to get something, it’s the need to play for something. When I watch college athletes, I see them play with a fire that I rarely see from the pros. These guys are playing to impress, they are playing because they still have another level to ascend. Once they hit the pros they will be rewarded with a fat contract, and almost without exception, as soon as they sign on the dotted line, their will and desire seem to vanish. What more do they have to play for? They now have enough money to last them for many many years (they will of course blow most of that on cars and a house big enough for every person in their family (going back to the Paleolithic era).
There are of course a few exceptions, but to find a professional athlete that still plays with the heart and will of a little leaguer is rare. I know someone who said that the pros are where great college athletes go to die. I would have to agree with that. The main problem that I see here is that this problem doesn’t seem correctable. You can get into the debate about whether or not we should be paying collegiate athletes, (I think we should give them some type of payment or stipend), but I don’t see how you can create will in a person. It’s possible for great players to inspire others, and to make average players better (see Michael Jordan and his effect on Scottie Pippen), but it takes each and every person on their own to want to win, and to want to give their best each and every game. I was an athlete when I was younger and there was nothing I hated more than to lose. Unfortunately not everyone shares that same philosophy, and that’s what separates the good ones from the great ones.
If you’re an athlete and you seemed to have lost the will or desire to want to win, then you should retire. If you find you’re playing for the wrong reasons, it’s up to you to remove yourself from the game. You need to remember that you are an adult getting paid to play a kids game, and that there are a lot of people out there that would trade places with you in a second. Remember why it was that got you into the game in the first place, remember the joy and jubilation you felt when you played the game as a kid, and most importantly, see the looks on the faces of the kids watching you from the crowd. Know that you being joy to a lot of people, but also know that we can’t stand watching lazy overpaid adults walk through the game just to collect a paycheck.