The current episode of the documentary news show, HBO's Real Sports, sheds light on an operation conducted by University athletic departments to steer athletes to easy majors to maintain their eligibility to play collegiate sports. Of the different players interviewed, their majors had titles such as Interdisciplinary studies, Multi-disciplinary studies or General studies. With current High School juniors and sophomores moving into the most important years of their lives, they should, along with their parents, look closely into this when being recruited by colleges or sending game tapes to schools. The recent efforts of Northwestern University football players to form a player's union has set an enormous precedent to bring into the spotlight the paradox of the NCAA. On the one hand, the NCAA refuses to pay athletes to preserve their amateur standing, but cannot, in the interest of profits, let athletes stray one moment from a strict athletic schedule which has them involved over 40 hours per week.
The issue of the merits of a union are not to be discussed in this article, but parents (and students) should explore the curriculum of these schools in depth and speak with academic advisors on site at the school about degrees that will be able to employ their children after graduation. Playing professional sports is every young athlete's dream but a backup plan must be prepared if that dream does not become a reality. A hard-earned education does help a young athlete who does manage to make it to the professional level because he develops critical thinking and problem solving which can help distinguish bad investments and advisors from good ones. Also, offenses and defenses are becoming more complicated and the ability of the athlete to comprehend the playbook leads to him being able to contribute faster to the team's success. The allure of guaranteed contracts as a rookie doesn't compare to the future success from consistent productivity and longevity--which can only be gained through having a trained mind (and body).