Last week, the NCAA released a ‘day in the life’ video on twitter, a 30 second clip that intended to represent a snapshot of a typical day of a collegiate student-athlete. The post didn’t go over great, and while I think they meant well, the NCAA needs to step up to make it right for its current and former student-athletes. Below are two ways the organization can ‘fix’ its recent blunder.
From a marketing standpoint, I believe the NCAA intended to highlight the excitement and pride one has as a student athlete. The mistake: assuming you can tell a portion of the story, omitting the grit it takes to get there.
We live in an age where we enjoy watching and reading content that showcases the ‘end result’. We love posting photos of the ‘win’ or glamorous shots, however you never see the journey it took to get there. For example:
- We love seeing pictures on Instagram of fitness models with toned legs and six pack abs, but we don’t see the hours they put into their workout regimen, the early mornings and late nights in the gym, or the discipline they apply to their diet
- We enjoy reading posts on LinkedIn of entrepreneurs who make ‘passive income’, however we never see the thousands of hours they spend perfecting their craft early in the morning, late at night, and on weekends
- We drool over foodies who are paid to promote restaurants or post amazing pictures of meals, yet we don’t see the decades of time they spent working, traveling modestly, learning the culinary arts and networking with like-minded individuals
Posting feel good moments may work in many industries, but remember… student-athletes are a different breed! I remember vividly the countless hours that I spent on and off the court to earn a Division I roster spot. I also remember how my experience as a student-athlete prepared me very well for my career.
So how can the NCAA bounce back from this special video? Easy: get real and highlight the ‘before’ and ‘after’:
Solution 1: Highlight High School Commitments
Find current student-athletes and ask them to re-enact what was involved to get to the DI, DII or DIII level:
- Conditioning workouts
- Early morning practices
- Film sessions
- Studying and SAT prep
- Volunteer service and more.
I could go on. All of these were just a few of the reasons I was so stressed, anxious and competitive during the college recruiting process. Also, mention the sacrifices they made: less time hanging out with friends, time completing homework on the road, wear and tear on their bodies, etc.
Solution 2: Showcase Former Student-Athletes
So many college athletes don’t play professional sports after graduation. Instead, they ‘hang up their cleats’, which is code for no more preseason, 3-a-day workouts, icing, film, study hall, traveling, etc. #respect. Showcase how these individuals transition their skills into the working world:
- Their ability to thrive within a team-setting
- The drive and hustle they display, or their willingness to put in extra hours at the job
- Illustrate how former student-athletes coach a team or train athletes after their 9 to 5
- Showcase how well they listen to and/or excel after receiving constructive criticism
While the NCAA’s ‘a day in the life’ video of a student-athlete omits many aspects of the student- athlete experience, I always believe that many organizations can make right on their mishaps. The NCAA can use this opportunity as a way to showcase what being a student-athlete is truly about, and make many of their alumni much happier campers.