Cardele Jones: The evolution of a student-athlete’s priorities

A myriad of universities in the United States celebrated their graduation ceremonies last weekend. Indeed, our tennis player Marta González Niño graduated with honors at Queens University of Charlotte. We want to offer our most sincere congratulations to her!

After obtaining the Bachelor’s Degree, some decide to enter the labor market while others opt to pursue an even higher education. From this point of view, graduation is just a pit stop in a long distance race.

Notwithstanding, student-athletes may also interpret graduation as the finish line. No matter which career path they follow, the days combining school and sports at the highest level are likely over. A few will attempt to become pro athletes, while the vast majority of graduates prefer to relegate sports to the hobby tier.

Blending a full credit schedule with 20-hour weeks on the court is an underrated challenge. Adding an active social life on top of that is borderline unmanageable.

Student-athletes become adept at setting their priorities straight throughout their college career.

A 17/19-year-old freshman feels capable of accomplishing absolutely everything. Upon arrival, putting in an extra hour at the gym while also being the last person to abandon the library seems doable. Don’t forget about attempting to be a nightlife superstar. It does not take long for them to fall down to Earth.

Another prototype of a naïve freshman is the star athlete that feels obliged to go to class. His only goal at the university is to eventually become a pro athlete. There are plenty of cases like this in basketball or football. Insert former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones who, in 2012, a couple years before making his official debut, submitted this legendary tweet:

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A more seasoned student-athlete has begun to establish more realistic priorities, always keeping a good balance between school and sport. Cannot disregard either. For instance, chasing a 4.0 GPA is not a good thing if you’re skipping half the practice sessions. Athletic performance will falter, which could lead to being left off the lineup. On the other hand, if you are solely focused on your sport, your grades will stumble. In extreme cases, you could end up being ineligible to play.

Let’s go back to the graduations. If a student-athlete reaches this point is because he has successfully handled his duties both in the classroom and on the court (or field, track, pool…). As a 21/23-year-old you see things from a different perspective compared to your teenage days. Even Cardale Jones does. The current Buffalo Bills backup QB took advantage of the NFL offseason and took care of the credits required to graduate at OSU.

The sensation of the first ever College Football Playoff mocked his immature old self at graduation. Thus, his cap stated: “Someone once said ‘We ain’t come here to play school’”

This photo reflects the evolution in Cardale’s priorities. Even if he is never a franchise NFL QB, he knows his college diploma could be helpful in the future.

Text: Pablo Mosquera