Today is National Signing Day.
It’s interesting that a qualifier isn’t necessary. We all understand that high school athletes are signing with colleges to play sports. These kids deserve admiration. Each one has natural talent, but that only goes so far. Many talented high school athletes never ran across a college field. Those who sign today have also worked hard to earn the opportunity.
As much as I admire these kids (and we would all do well to remember that they are kids), I can’t help but notice all this attention is a bit out of balance.
We are used to headlines like: UT Snags Top Five Recruiting Class or Saban and The Tide Reload.
How would we react to this headline: UT Signs Five Star Mechanical Engineering Prospect or Experts Name University of Memphis Incoming Education Majors the Best Ever—Possible Dynasty
Consider a few statistics from the NCAA.
According to statistics found here (http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/research/probability-competing-beyond-high-school), only 6.5% of high school football players will play college ball. 1.6% of those players will go on to the pro level. In men’s basketball, 3.3% make it from high school to college. 1.2% of college basketball players will play pro hoops.
Now math was not my strongest subject, but I’m pretty sure these numbers mean that only a tiny fraction of athletes, including those signing today, will ever make a living at their sport.
So, where am I going with this?
We’ve made heroes out of athletes. If a child is talented and skilled enough to play at the college level, then they have probably been highly esteemed for that talent and those skills for many years. They may have even enjoyed celebrity status among their peers and in their community.
Please hear me. I’m not saying that athletic scholarships and our admiration of these students is wrong.
What I’m saying is that there are just as many academically and artistically talented students, but I’ve never heard of a national signing day for criminal justice majors.
And, what about that solid B student who works hard, does the best they can, and goes on to be a success in their chosen field. Shouldn’t we admire their tenacity as much as we admire talent?
Most importantly (and this applies to the athletes, brains, and “normal” kids), what about their character?
Do these teenagers emulate Christ with their goals and actions?
Does the wide receiver practice his routes, not just for the coach, but for God’s glory?
Does the future educator spend hours on class projects because of potential influence on non-Christian students?
Does the future mechanical engineer slave over equations because all truths, even those holding up a bridge, are God’s truths?
Are your children great athletes? If so, I hope they work hard and reach their full potential. But one day, they won’t be able to run quite so fast, jump quite so high, or see the baseball quite so clearly.
Are your children gifted academically or artistically? I hope they will be able to use those talents to their utmost. But, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be more insightful artistically, and someone will always achieve greater things.
I’d just like to see us all keep these things in balance.
Let’s teach our children and grandchildren that their worth is in being created in God’s image.
This image provides the talent and ability we celebrate.
Let’s celebrate it for the right reasons.