Professional Sports: Where Does That Leave the Rest of Us?

Jonathan LeowContributor IFebruary 11, 2011

GREEN BAY, WI - FEBRUARY 08: Green Bay Packers wide receivers Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson address the fans during the Packers victory ceremony at Lambeau Field on February 8, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Matt Ludtke/Getty Images)
Matt Ludtke/Getty Images

We all love watching professional sports; no matter what the sport is, we are fans, passionate fans, coaches and some of us even still play the games we love long after we should.

That is what makes sport such a great thing and why everyone from Bollywood to  Hollywood loves the subject of sports as popcorn folder—why we, the fan in the seat, will ourselves to believe that Matt Damon is actually one of the most hard working rugby flankers in the world ever.

This is not a rant about how movies have "spoiled" the sports we love, but more a look at how some sports are built more for the professional arena more than others.

The NFL Gridiron Superbowl has just concluded and it has garnered millions, if not billions of eyeballs and dollar signs for the sport and the event.

Here’s a fact that many might not know: For every Aaron Rodgers and Hines Ward that makes it to the "big game" of professional American Football, there is a whole lot of disappointed football players who play in the Canadian League, semi pro leagues and mostly, none play at all after college.

It’s a tale of the top rises and the rest are left wondering what to do with themselves. Only 2.4% of the some 9,000 college players will even get invited to the mass interview which is the NFL scouting combine.

When you count that there are some 100,000 plus players coming out of high school every year in the United States, that statistic is even more daunting for the aspiring quarterback throwing the ball through a tyre in his backyard with dreams of one day playing in the superbowl.

In 2009, George Dohrmann wrote for Sports Illustrated on a tale of how two Oregon Ducks Football players had lost weight after realizing the pro game was not going to call them. 

The article goes on to detail how their story is one told across college football programs across the United States and how many college players, especially those who play on the offensive line, are sadly unfit and overweight when football ends.

The article can be found here.

What struck me about the article is that to these young men, the game they so loved ended for them as players after college, when they were in peak condition and really in the prime of transitioning to a new sport. These are guys who have trained both in the weight room and on the field on an almost daily basis and to give it all up seems a real pity.

For argument’s sake, I am going to use rugby as a linked example here, given that it is the closest cousin to American Gridiron football, but really it is about giving these guys an outlet to still be fit, but play a competitive sport that fuels that spirit.

If you have been in a team competitive environment for most of your athletic life, then how exciting will running be for you fresh out of an intense competitive environment which is American Collegiate sport?

There seems to be a need for a conversion so to speak, where these top level athletes can use what they have gained in another sport and flourish in that sport both athletically, and more importantly socially.

As someone on the other side of the world who has been involved as a Rugby player, coach and administrator, it amazes me when watching various American football games as to how these guys would fair in Rugby.

Not just the receivers and the backs, but even the linemen would make an easy transition, given some time to learn the rules, but physically, these guys are fit for another sport.