Not Just a Degree in Football…

There was a great article this morning in the Calgary Herald about the intelligence and smarts of certain football players. You can click here to read the full article. It helps debunk the common stereotype we often have of jocks that they have gifted physical and athletic attributes, but are lacking substance upstairs. I still remember the expression used to make fun of an introductory Geology course in university. People called it “Rocks for Jocks” because it had a reputation of being easy and the class was filled with student athletes looking to get some easy marks, or just hoping to get by.

But, as mentioned in the Herald article, take a survey of any football team, and take a look at the student athletes combining school with athletics across our campuses, and we can see that there are many examples of abilities that transcend the playing field. Already sports, in itself, is such a valuable education for learning leadership, teamwork, adversity, pressure, training, practice, and perseverance skills. With smart players, they are more likely and able to apply and transfer these skills in other contexts in the community, business, and education world during and after their athletic careers.

In the Canadian Football League, especially, with the salary being relatively low for professional athletes, knowing and learning about what players do outside sports makes them more in touch with the common folk. I think an athlete’s true power and influence comes when he/she is able to motivate not only other people in the same sport, but when someone who is totally in a different field gets inspired to go beyond limits because of an athlete’s example.

-Patrick Law



Filed under Sports and Fitness

3 responses to “Not Just a Degree in Football…

  1. Zal

    Very good points, Pat. Many athletes are extremely well educated in other areas as well. For example, Jock Climie is a lawyer, and Ken Dryden both a lawyer and politician.

    Athletes like Tiger Woods and MJ have to also be astute businessmen in order to handle their finances properly. You don’t want to end up like Mike Tyson, earning millions of dollars yet going bankrupt.

    It seems the trend these days is for recently retired athletes to hit the broadcast booth as color commentators (ie – Tiki Barber, Jerome Bettis, etc). This also takes strong communication and presentation skills, as well as a good foundational knowledge of the media and broadcasting industry.

  2. Zal,
    Thanks for your comments. I know this could be a bit controversial, but the original Herald article hinted at, even though in jocular fashion, who is the dumbest and which position we would likely find this label?

    Of course this reminds us the age old argument about what kind of players play what kind of positions and then race, inevitable, gets brought into the discussion.

    Then there’s topic of football smart and book smart. I always find it amazing how much players have to process within seconds and then just react with their bodies without letting their brains get in the way. If you spend just a bit too long thinking, your opponent already flies right by you.

    I’ve never being able to combine the two processes to achieve that feeling many call ‘flow.’ Sometimes I reach that great feeling of speed, power, and athleticism, but then make a bone headed mistake and have a mental breakdown or something. Or, at other times, I would think up the perfect scenario, be totally prepared for anything situation that could arise, analyzed all the angles, have a great strategy, but be frozen and stiff and cannot move to where my mind is going.

    Hmmm…..the ever elusiveness of sports….And that’s why we keep playing!!!!!


  3. wildcatteacher

    More on why sports is good for kids and the pitfalls of sports at

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