Opinion: Athletes make career decisions, too

Ty Sugick

Career decisions are made on a daily basis in the sports and business world. Some days people wake up and realize that the career they’ve chosen just isn’t for them anymore and quit. On the other hand, sometimes a business feels as if the career you’re leading isn’t for you anymore and fire you. Career decisions are a part of life. People must deal with it.

Sunday night, the Associated Press released the findings of their latest NFL survey: 71 of 100 NFL athletes expressed that they have either made an in-game career decision or hav seen someone else make one.

Career decisions for athletes are stepping out of bounds instead of fighting for extra yardage on a play, or not catching a ball on purpose in fear of the hit you would take if you went for it.

Fans may not be happy with the idea of athletes taking plays off in order to save themselves, but they must remember that this is their job, and just like the average employee, you will do anything you can to stay in your position for as long as possible.

Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman, Jeremy Mincey, was quoted saying, “You could have gotten me to run through a brick wall when I was younger… But now you just get older and wiser, you learn. ‘Win this battle, lose that war?’ Nah, I’d rather win the war.”

The NFL is a dirty business on and off the field. Players who were the staple of an organization’s success get cut due to a change of direction. Frequent injuries are a huge reason a team will cut a veteran.

These split decisions are necessary to an athlete’s livelihood. Athletes have mouths to feed like everyone else and two yards can make the difference between having another two years or being done after that one hit. The NFL is vicious and sometimes the extra fight isn’t worth it.

Career decisions are made well before the professional level,. High school athletes who have scholarships on the table will take plays off and coaches will even limit their plays. The same thing happens at the collegiate level.

For anyone who has ever played a sport, it is natural for an athlete to be aware of a dangerous situation and avoid it. It is innate in everyone human and fans do not have the right to judge athletes for protecting themselves.

Take Jadeveon Clowney for example: after his sophomore year at the University of South Carolina, he knew his value as a first-round one NFL pick. Clowney was often ridiculed for taking games and plays off during his junior season in order to stay healthy.

Fans shouldn’t be worried: Career decisions are not affecting the game – the athletes still compete at a high level, they just realized they’re a part of a business and have to take precautions to keep their job.

The career decisions fans should be worried about are the premature retiring of athletes, like Calvin Johnson, due to the intense nature of the game. Players are calling it quits early in order to be healthy enough to provide in life after football. Concussions are the only real issue fans should worry about; a player taking it easy on a play should be the least of your worries. 

Ty Sugick is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].