In comparison to numerous other countries, college sports are wildly popular in the United States. In many areas, college-level events are not inferior to more professional ones, gathering large crowds and attracting mass media coverage. Hence, educational institutions rival not only for academic heights but also for prestige in athleticism, making college sports a highly competitive business (Gurney et al., 2017). As a result, sports programs gradually infiltrate the educational domain and subvert it. It is believed that winning elite contests and successful teams provide colleges with considerable advantages that render them more attractive to high school seniors. Commercialization transformed college sports – currently, they are no longer only amateur activities, but a league on its own.
There are three principal authorities in the domain of college sports – NCAA, NJCAA, and NAIA. Among the three organizations, the National College Athletics Association (NCAA) is the one most well-known and significant in the field. In contrast to NJCAA and NAIA, NCAA cooperates with more than a thousand large colleges and universities inside the country, supporting their sports programs (Gurney et al., 2017). NCAA is split into three divisions, where each one is assigned progressive importance with Division I being the most competitive and having the strictest eligibility rules (link to NCAA Eligibility Center). Despite several controversies, the organization remains highly regarded and influential.
Comparatively to NCAA, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) is a somewhat smaller organization, supervising intercollegiate athletic programs. Additionally, while NCAA is mostly active within the United States, NAIA also operates outside the country. For instance, the organization manages several sports programs in Canada, allowing many foreign players to participate (Gurney et al., 2017). On the other hand, the organization’s scholarships are somewhat lesser – NAIA’s first division scholarship is comparable to the NCAA scholarship in the Second Division. One of the advantages is that eligibility rules are relatively less strict (link to NAIA Eligibility Information Center). In this way, NAIA can be characterized as a smaller organization.
Among the three organizations, the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) can be considered a minor one, yet essential for promoting collegiate athletics. NJCAA is, first of all, occupied with sports in the community, city, technical, and junior colleges (Gurney et al., 2017). In comparison to the other two organizations, the eligibility requirements, in this case, is lower (NJCAA eligibility information). Although the organization provides scholarships only for two-year colleges, it represents a momentous occasion to start since it is possible to transfer to a four-year educational institution after. NJCAA also provides an opportunity for students less centered on academics.
In conclusion, collegiate athletics is a flourishing domain with a variety of opportunities for students who prioritize academics differently. NCAA is the most impactful organization in college sports, with higher scholarships, stricter eligibility rules, and fiercer competition. NAIA is a mid-tier organization that collaborates with smaller educational institutions and recruits foreign athletes. Lastly, NJCAA is a great chance to enter college sports for students who do not prioritize academics. It can be seen that the domain offers an array of options for interested students.
Facts about playing a sport in college:
- Despite not being central, academic progress still matters to be able to play.
- College sports teach valuable lessons about time management, leadership, and work ethics.
- One of the main benefits is the relationships that an athlete manages to build.
- College sports put students under academic and physical pressure.
- A useful video to obtain insight into a college athlete’s routine.
Gurney, G., Lopiano, D. A., & Zimbalist, A. (2017). Unwinding madness: What went wrong with college sports and how to fix it. Brookings.