The forgotten ones

The forgotten ones
August 12
13:18 2020

Earlier in the pandemic, I wrote a column pertaining to how bad I felt for athletes who are losing a season due to COVID-19. In that column, I discussed multiple levels of sports from high school all the way to the professional level. This column will focus on those athletes who may lose a scholarship due to not having the chance to play their final season.

After several months of social distancing and quarantines, I have had the opportunity to have conversations with several individuals about this topic. What I have come to realize is some parents and athletes have not planned for a circumstance like COVID-19 and don’t have a backup plan outside of where sports was leading them up to this point.

The best of the best in high school sports are not going to be affected that drastically by the pandemic. The athletes who most needed to have a backup plan are the ones who have not had the opportunity to start for their respective teams and this was going to be “their year,” or the athlete that is a fringe Division II or III player and needed his final year to solidify his scholarship, or even the athlete that is recovering from an injury and needs to prove they are back to their original form.

The question that keeps coming to mind when I think about these athletes is, what happens to them when they don’t receive a scholarship? Millions of athletes depend on athletic scholarships to not only get them into school, but to also prevent them from diving headfirst into debt from student loans as soon as they cross the graduation stage.  Who looks out for these athletes now that they possibly won’t have the opportunity to go to get that coveted scholarship?

It seems that there is COVID-19 relief for just about everyone, but I don’t think many people have thought about these kids and how their futures are going to be significantly altered due to this pandemic. Since these kids possibly won’t get scholarships, do they now take out high interest rate loans, or do they stay at home, get jobs at fast food restaurants, join the military or even turn to a life of crime? Where do they go and what do they do?

I can somewhat understand where some of these kids are coming from. If everything up to this point has shown that a kid had an opportunity to earn a scholarship, then of course they should go full force toward achieving that goal. And let’s be honest, school is not easy for everyone, so for some of these athletes, maintaining a high GPA is a struggle.  What I can’t understand is not planning for a rainy day, because they sometimes come when you least expect it.

I hate to admit it, but this situation applies mainly to the African American community, unfortunately. It’s sad that we are still sending kids out with that singular mentality in this day and age. I think this is a major byproduct of the school system taking trades out of the high schools, leaving many to feel that college is their only option.

Trades are not only as profitable as a college degree, but in many cases they can be even more profitable depending on the trade, with less debt from loans. Mechanics, plumbers, carpenters and electricians were all trades that the baby boomer generation had the opportunity to learn, instead of going to a four-year university, and they are still thriving avenues to this day.  

Why are we still mostly pushing college for every high school student? A better question is, even if a student has athletic talent, why not have one of these choices as a backup? These professions are great choices for a budding entrepreneur as well.

It angers me that in 2020 we still have athletes and parents who are banking on sports as their “way out” of their current situation or as their lead option. I’m sure we all know the old saying that the only ways out of the “hood” are to play sports, rap, sell drugs or death. That is a sad outlook for anyone to have as the only means of improvement.  We as a country should not be in the same situation as we were 40 years ago.

What about the mental state of some of these kids? How quickly are they able to shift focus from something that has seemingly been right over the horizon just to have it abruptly taken away?  

I don’t think this is a problem that can be solved from the federal level by initiating creative legislation from lawmakers. I think this needs to start at home and let our kids know at a young age that they are more than their respective athletic gifts. Yes, they are great to have, but those are not the only gifts they are born with.

My hope is that this pandemic can be used as a learning tool to not have our kids rely on their athletic talents. As we progress as a community, we need to retool our thinking process when it pertains to overcoming low-income situations. It is possible; we just have to use all of the assets that have been presented to us and not just rely on the obvious.  

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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