I was at a hotel in Carlsbad, CA on Sunday and aside from amazing weather and really good food, there was something else notable in the air.
NFL Rookie Camp. A mandatory seminar for all NFL rookies.
I saw scores of stud football players just lounging around. (Their workday began Monday… Sunday was check in.)
No need for me to name drop because, truth is, none of these guys have done one darn thing in the world of professional sports… yet. Though a few of them are already multi-millionaires based on their college exploits, draft status and so on, the land of NFL dreams, stardom and so on had not yet hit in full stride in their lives.
But it was cool to see.
And why does the NFL have a Rookie Camp? It’s for the “life” side of being an NFL player. This had nothing to do with weights, 40 yard dash times, 225 lb. reps or any of that. This was where the NFL put all of its rookies through mandatory session on life skills such as…
- managing your money
- watching out for gold diggers
- gambling protocol
- talking to the media
- getting ahold of counseling services for drugs, emotional/psychological issues
… stuff like that.
I saw scores of beefy, idolized young men on their way to having a variety of mentors illuminate for them the traps and pitfalls of becoming a professional athlete.
Now, for the NFL, this makes good business sense. Fans pay big money for Super Bowl tix, jerseys, season passes and luxury boxes. Matter of fact, as a tv franchise, the NFL seems immune to any sort of recession whatsoever. Football has always been big yet these days, it’s bigger than ever.
And keeping its players out of the news for jail, arrests, drugs, battery and so on, well, it’s good for the health of the industry. Billionaires know this, which is why they spend a few million teaching these kids some stuff.
Now do the kids learn it? Not all of them. No. But I got to speak to a few and could see that the gravity of what was upon them was already beginning to reframe their thinking.
It got me thinking, what if we put all our young men in this country through some sort of “mentorship” program that was mandatory? A place where they’d get a taste of Scared Straight mixed in with a few “watch out for this pitfall” chats complemented by a “Call this phone number if __X__ happens” and so on.
Would it not make good sense for society? Fiscally, morally, and so on, so may of our young men are just cast adrift and when I looked at how these coddled college athletes were being hand-held all the way through to the doorway of adulthood it made me realize that 1) those that do end up on the police blotters have got to be real klonk-heads because the NFL is going all out in its own way (even if it is just to protect their own investment) and 2) if society showed as much smarts about shepherding ALL young men from boyhood to manhood in a more overt, direct and thoughtfully guided manner, our entire nation would be better served.
NFL Rookie Camp… it’s so, so smart. Society… not so much.