Thursday, February 8, 2007

National Signing Day

Yesterday was National Signing Day, the day when high school seniors can officially accept scholarship offers to play college football. It’s a big day for fans. They gather on the campus of their favorite team to celebrate the signing of top prospects and to fret over whether or not the team got the help they’ll need to compete for a conference or even a national championship over the next few years. Web sites and blogs experience tremendous traffic as fans check in to see how their school’s recruiting class is shaping up and to chat with each other about it all. It’s a big day for coaches. Bless their hearts; their future employment depends on whether they’ve picked the right eighteen and nineteen year olds to recruit. And, of course, it’s a big day for the players and for their families. A full ride to college is nothing to sneeze at; the players and their parents are justifiably proud. They are also justifiably excited about what the future might hold.

I do feel some pain for the young men, though. It can’t be easy to have so many details of your life aired in public. We can find out how much they weigh, how tall they are, what injuries they’ve suffered, and where they live. Sometimes their high school GPA and their SAT or ACT score become public knowledge. I especially feel for those players who are struggling to get their grades or their scores to a high enough level that they can be accepted to the school of their choice. It is perfectly honorable to go to a prep school or to a junior college in order to get one’s academics in better shape. Students who are not athletes do that all the time; it’s just not reported on the front page of the Sports section.

I think we ought to pray for these young men. Many of us know that the transition to college life can be difficult. These guys have the extra burden of being stars. So let’s pray that they will keep level heads and that they will keep the big picture of their lives in mind. They have a great opportunity. And they are far more than big, strong, fast guys who block, tackle, run, throw, catch, and kick. They are human beings for whom the good Lord just may have something great in store.

And even though most of them think they want to play in the NFL, that something great may well have nothing to do with football.

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