3 Great Reasons to Have a Back-Up Plan Photo: (Barkley with Gittens during Philly Area Basketball Standouts Banquet)
Sports and the activities surrounding them continue to be a very influential part of our lives. Millions of people around the world just witnessed the Philadelphia Eagles finally win a Superbowl. Many young men will dream that this becomes the story of their lives when they leave either high school or the collegiate ranks. When writing “Step Into Your Glorious Future”, I committed a chapter on how to take a more disciplined approach when it comes to roles we allow sports to play in our lives. As good an athlete as I thought I realized that there were 3 major reasons why I should have a backup plan.
The odds are not in your favor. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the probability of playing one of the major sports collegiately for high school participants runs around 3%. The number of athletes who make it to the professional ranks from college goes down to about 2% so you can see that it is definitely not a sure thing. While playing basketball at Cabrini University in Pennsylvania, I had the opportunity to meet basketball greats Charles Barkley, Coach John Chaney, and elite college players like Tim Perry and Mark Macon. We met at an annual banquet held in the city of Philadelphia to honor its hoops standouts at every level from small college all the way up to the professional ranks. As much as I enjoyed being there, I realized that their chances for success in sports were probably much better than mine. Today’s high school athletes are having press conferences and presented on television when it comes to deciding where they will attend college. While embracing their moment of glory, we must remind ourselves of the NCAA statistics that highlight the low rate of success when it comes to achieving your goals solely through athletics. Putting as much emphasis on academic excellence is a way to ensure that instead of falling within the 2-3% achieving range, they can join the thousands of students that make up the upward trending graduation rates. (74% to 87% From 2003 – 2017)
Personal financial management is a life skill you must excel in. Sports changes the lives of those who make it to the top of their profession and it’s not always good. Athletes throughout the years have displayed many of the same traits the general population has when it comes to making financial decisions. Depending on your source, anywhere from 50-75% of athletes are in financial distress about 5 years after they finish playing ball. Some of the leading causes include hiring friends who not trained in financial management, child support payments, or allowing agents to make most if not all their financial decisions because of their unfamiliarity about money. For every story of the millionaire athletes and entertainers making millions of dollars, there are just as many of them blowing it within a short period of time because they rely on someone else to manage their financial affairs. It is written that wealth gained hastily will dwindle but whoever gathers little by little will increase it (Prov 13:11, ESV). In other words, whether you think your son or daughter has the potential to be a great athlete, now is the time to give them some basic financial literacy instruction.
A personal growth plan helps you in other areas of your life. Whether your kids turn out to be great athletes, they will be faced with challenges at college, work or in the community they live in. Decisions they now make about the people and environments they’re in have the potential to change their lives forever. It is written that bad company corrupts good character (1 Cor 15:33). Our society loves celebrities and most of us like to be able to name-drop every now and then, just like I did earlier in this post. I think for most it’s a way of adding some legitimacy to our story. Nowadays many of our young men in particular start experiencing a celebrity type lifestyle from high school and sometimes even before that, primarily because they are athletically gifted. This extends into the entertainment field and even in politics. Teaching both our young men and women about respecting themselves and others while they’re at home will pay dividends for years to come. Too often we see and hear of situations where children who get into tough spots when they leave home for college. There is no magic pill for this and none of us are immune to this. Purpose to talk to your children about the dangers of drug and alcohol, identity theft and cohabitation as well as becoming financially literate, taking their education seriously and more as part of their personal growth plan.
Many professional athletes continue to do great things in our country when it comes to charitable works, mentorship and in other areas. For those of us that don’t make it to the top of the sports and entertainment fields, we can have just as much of an impact on our young people as those that do. Continue to be role models when it comes to representing yourself and your families. As graduation approaches for some of today’s athletes, take the time meet with your sons and daughters to discuss and hopefully map out a personal growth plan that involves not only sports but education, finances, service, volunteering, spiritual growth and other areas critical to their development as citizens. For more on generational life lessons stay conncected with me at markogittens.com.