Should I Play Sports in College?

Should I play sports in collegeChoosing whether or not to play a sport in college can be a difficult decision and plays a big role in where you decide to attend. Here are some important questions to ask yourself in the process:

First: What sport?

Is it a sport that many colleges have a program for? How competitive is it to get recruited for that sport? For example, as a gymnast you may find yourself with a very limited set of colleges with a gymnastics program. However, if you are interested in running track, a variety of schools have programs.

How involved are you with it right now?

Do you play outside of your high school team? What level of club or travel are you currently playing? It is important to take into account how much of your time you are dedicating to the sport now and how much you would be willing to dedicate to it in the future. If you are currently only playing the sport one season of the year, you may want to think twice before dreaming of playing for a Division I program that requires dedication year round.

What type/size of college are you interested in attending?

In general, the larger the school, the more competitive the sports division will be. However, there are some smaller schools with Division I programs and vice versa. You may be used to being the star player at your high school but, in a competitive program, you may not receive playing time until your junior year. Make sure you research the division the athletic program you are interested in is part of.

Briefly, here’s a breakdown of each division category:

Division I

  • Most amount of athletic scholarships available
  • Programs highly funded, nice facilities
  • Intense year-round commitment
  • Cross-country travel
  • Highly competitive

Division II

  • Fewer athletic scholarships available (than Division I)
  • Often smaller public or private universities
  • Intermediate level of commitment and competition

Division III

  • Official athletic scholarships not available, though academic scholarships often offered to athletes
  • Flexibility to play two sports
  • Level of competition varies greatly

What is your
motivation to play in college?

Are you truly passionate about dedicating yourself to the sport or are you motivated by the possibility of a scholarship? Are you doing this for yourself or are your parents the main motivators? If your heart is not in it for the right reasons you may find yourself unhappy, wanting to quit, or transfer to another college in the future, so make sure you’ve thought long and hard about your motivation. Are you willing to make the sport a huge dictator of your college lifestyle?

Does the school have a club team option for your sport?

Some schools may have a club team for your sport. Club can provide an organized and competitive option to keep
playing your sport but also have time to get involved with other activities or organizations on campus. Club teams can vary greatly from school to school in how much time they require or how competitive they are. Take time to research the level of commitment. Contact the current captain or coach if possible to feel it out or try to meet with him or her during your campus visit.

Valerie Grove is a junior at Virginia Tech, majoring in communications. She plays for the Club Field Hockey team and went through the deliberation of whether or not college sports were right for her.

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