Most folks think college sports and they think of the big-time football and basketball programs at the Division I schools competing in March Madness or the College Football Playoff series. But there is so much more to playing sports in college and, more importantly, there are so many other opportunities to get involved in collegiate athletics even if you didn’t win the genetic lottery and possess God-given talent on the field or the court. College sports are open to everyone and anyone who wishes to get involved need only research the different programs on campus to find out how to become part of a team.
Picking the Right School
Those students who are interested in playing sports in college often put too much emphasis on the name of the school and its reputation for a certain program. But getting an education is just important, perhaps you’d like to get USC’s gis degree while you’re at school. If you’re chasing the prestige of the school, you may be missing the bigger, more important picture of not just everything that you’re expected to get out of the college experience (some of which may be compromised by choosing a bigger name school specializing in just a sports program), but wasting valuable time in getting into that one school which may not have any interest in recruiting or even accepting you down the line. So while you can have your heart set on a specific college, come up with alternatives in the event that your top school isn’t in the cards.
Know Your Divisions
Although there are hundreds of schools to choose from that are members of the various sports associations that include the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), it’s the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) that is perhaps the best and most widely known. Within the NCAA are three Divisions, I, II, and III, that every NCAA-affiliated university and college is a part of under the association. Division I schools get the most TV air-time and are more well-known. These schools offer their students the most scholarships. Divisions II and III are not as widely competitive nor do they get as much television exposure, which is why they don’t offer as many scholarships but do provide financial aid at the Division II level. Division III does not but you can still be recruited by one of these institutions, such as Tufts University. Being a part of any NCAA affiliated school can be very beneficial should you decide to turn pro.
Just for Fun
So maybe you’re not looking to make one of the varsity-level programs at your school. Football isn’t your thing, you’re not so hot at basketball, baseball doesn’t excite you, and you’re just not built for hockey. Perhaps you just want something to play so you can meet other people, engage in some friendly competition, and get a little exercise on a regular basis. There are plenty of options there as well, with many schools offering club and intramural sports for those of us who aren’t freakishly talented and physically sculpted. While the former can be demanding on your time, the latter is usually just for fun and can incorporate teams that are organized on campus competing at a leisurely level. That’s not to suggest intramural play can’t get competitive as well.