Today In Shocking News That Is In No Way Shocking: College Football Players Tend To Take Easier Majors
Being a high-level college football player is hard. The time commitment extends way beyond the season itself: you've got winter workouts at the crack of dawn. You've got spring practice. You've got summer workouts, and then you have training camp. And this doesn't include the stuff you do on your own. You know, training/studying you're not technically required to do...yet you're almost assured of being passed on the depth chart if you don't.
If you'll notice, none of the above obligations have anything to do with being a student - which these kids are also theoretically supposed to be. And in football, you have to wait a minimum of three years out of high school before going pro - in other words, you'd better be putting in some effort, or you'll be ineligible to play at some point during your college career. And balancing those obligations with essentially a year-round football commitment is tough - so should it be any surprise that at many schools, tons of football players tend to pick the same majors?
Well...no, it shouldn't. "Clustering," as it's called in this story from the AP's Paul Newberry, is neither a secret phenomenon nor a new one. According to Newberry, there are five BCS schools where more than half of the sophomores, juniors, and seniors on the football team have the same major: Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, UCLA, Wake Forest, and Baylor. If you broaden the clustering criteria to "half the players clustered within two or three majors," that number grows to 39.
And we really can't blame the kids. Like we said, it's hard being a big-time college football player. There's only so much time to go around. Newberry shares the story of Jay Finch, the Georgia Tech lineman who came in wanting to study architecture. Then, he heard about spending 100 to 120 hours a week in the studio. Obviously, he couldn't swing that. He's now a management major. Now, a management major isn't a joke. And Newberry showed how even one major that did kind of sound like a joke - Vanderbilt's "human and organizational development" - might not be such an easy way out.
But they still seem to be easier ways out than some courses of study. (Remember Stanford's - Stanford's! - infamous "courses of interest" list for athletes?) And though of course there are many exceptions, it's worth it to think about how many other cases like Finch's there are out there. (Probable answer: a lot.) And most of these kids aren't going to make it big in the NFL, so if they are changing their majors, they may well be doing themselves a disservice. College football is, for our money, the most entertaining sport out there, but if it's not helping the kids playing it, how much does that mean?
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