I went back and forth. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I had a bad knee, little film, limited ability and a passion for football that was unrivaled.
After high school, I decided football wasn’t something I wanted to chase. I didn’t have much say, but there was a small chance for a college football career for me. I didn’t take it. My mom and father kept their opinions to a minimum. They drove me three hours to a college visit. They paid for multiple college applications. They sat in the doctor’s office attending to my litany of injuries. At the end, I made the choice of where my life was headed. It ended up here, talking to you all.
I love it.
The first decision you truly make in your life is your post-high school path. Whether you decide to ship off to some university, head off to one of the military branches or head to some job you’ve been eyeing in your waning moments of high school.
In sports, for a small percentage, the first adult decision you make is how you shuffle through the real and fake of college recruiting. College sports are a business. Watching college football on television this weekend made that clear if it wasn’t already.
Unpaid student-athletes hit the field during a global pandemic for the entertainment of adults. That subject is for a different column, one when I have more energy and time to delve into the hypocrisy that is college sports.
High-level college recruiting can be a business-like venture. Parents grapple with the thought of their little one becoming an adult and moving far away. Young people have to learn how to become independent while stepping up to an elite level in the sport they’ve and trying learn study habits for academic curriculum that they may or may not be prepared for.
It’s a system that is designed to chew up the unprepared and spit them back into the world. It’s not for the light of heart. The University of Georgia opened their 2020 football season on Saturday. The Bulldogs started redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis at quarterback. Mathis lasted a quarter and a half in his first career college game.
It wasn’t about his talent. There are so many factors rushing through the minds of young student athletes. It can all play a role in the product they turn into on the field of play. The student-athlete themselves have to live with the things that come with the life on the campus they chose. Parents know that the world doesn’t always have the best intentions for any of us. There’s a balance to everything.Yolanda Jackson, the mother of Notre Dame commit Deion Colzie, has some advice for parents trying to approach the recruiting game. Parents want to protect their children.
“Don’t live your life through your children,” Jackson said. “I see it a lot...You child has a unique opportunity to have a free education and play a game I’m sure they love to play. As parents, sometimes we want to continue to make the decisions for our children, because that’s what we’ve done to this point. In order for them to be a productive citizen and adult, there are some dicisions that they’re going to have to make on their own. We have to learn how to let go and allow them to become that adult that we want them to become.”
Jeremy Johnson is the sports editor for The Oconee Enterprise. Opinions expressed are those of the writer.