Most pro football players spend at least three years playing college football to hone their skills as well as conform with a National Football League rule requiring the players be at least three years removed from their high school graduation before playing for the NFL. Given the short careers, big money and other issues that face young football players, a college education is one important type of education they should acquire. There are other types of education, aside from their time spent playing college football, that would benefit pro athletes immensely.
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Because pro football players tend to make a lot more money than the average person and more than their parents made, knowing how to handle big paychecks and all the baggage that comes with a football career is crucial. For that reason, the NFL sponsors a symposium for rookies every year to cover financial issues. Much of the education seeks to warn players about family members and friends expecting a financial windfall from the player’s success. Players are also advised to do learn about financial planning, investments, contracts, budgeting and various aspects of business, such as entrepreneurship.
The average NFL career lasts less than five years, which means most players are going to have to go out and get a second career when they are done playing. For many athletes, that means a job apart from football. Some players use the offseason to finish their degrees or work on obtaining advanced degrees, which the NFL supports with its Continuing Education Program. The idea is to encourage players to acquire the education and training that will help make their transition out of football a smooth one.
Life Skills Education
For many young pro football players, their new career means a lot of firsts, such as living on their own, handling big paychecks, buying a new wardrobe, traveling around the country, dealing with the full-time job and injuries that go along with pro football, meeting a lot of new people and dealing with fans and the media. They have more responsibilities and more temptations than they ever did in their lives, so a helpful education in how how stay out of trouble and deal with all these new situations with maturity can be invaluable. That's one reason why the Life Skills session leads off the annual NFL Rookie symposium.
It's one thing to play football for a living, working hard during the season and attending training and conditioning sessions during the off-season. And for those players who work on their bachelor's degrees or advanced degrees, either through colleges near where they live or online, there is one important educational opportunity that could help them later in life. There's nothing like learning a new career by actually spending some time on the job doing that career. Internships and part-time work can be available to players who use their contacts to learn first-hand about sales or any new job field. In 1991 the NFL launched its Career Internship Program for just such opportunities. Every year, players avail themselves of a chance to learn about other careers, either as a first step in that career or as a way of deciding what's not right for them.