Former track star receives honorary doctorate degree.

By: Taren Vaughan

Throughout the history of sports, there have been numerous occasions where star athletes leave school early to pursue their professional dreams. We see it all the time, especially amongst basketball and football players. They dedicate a year or two to their university’s sports program and then they are gone. Finishing school doesn’t seem to be a top priority for most of them. But for some athletes, having a degree is very important.

Michael Johnson, often referred to as the “fastest man in the world”, broke numerous records in track including the 200m, 400m and 4x400m relays. Now Johnson has acquired the most prized gold medal of his life. The former Olympic track star just received an honorary degree from University of Sunderland. The degree was a doctorate degree in arts. Not only does this man go for the gold in his sport. But he has that same drive when it comes to academics.

Johnson is not the only athlete who has obtained a college degree during or after their professional career. In 2000, Shaquille O’Neal went back to LSU to get his degree in business. Shortly after, former UNC Tarheel Vince Carter took a trip back to his alma mater to complete his college education, earning his degree. He even participated in the graduation ceremony.

Vince Carter on graduating:

“A lot of people might not think it’s important, just as long as they get the requirements. So what about walking? It doesn’t work that way in my family. It doesn’t work that way in my mind. It was just as important as playing in this game.”

As wonderful of an accomplishment this is for high powered athletes, they catch so much slack for this. Isn’t it bad enough that they are already criticized when it comes to the sports that they play? It’s so disheartening to hear people down players for going back to school and getting their degrees. Wasn’t college the place where they got to showcase their talents to the world? I guess just getting that one year in is what matters the most these days.

With the injury risks that surround professional athletes, wouldn’t it be wise for them to go back and get their undergraduate degrees? Seriously, it’s not like they don’t have the money to pay for it. And for those who argue the point about not having enough time to do it, that is definitely an overly used excuse. That’s what online classes are for. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Having a college degree, or a solid education period, is by far one of the most rewarding things one could have. I’m certain that Michael Johnson was extremely pleased with himself about reaching this “finish line”. Hopefully, Johnson and athletes who have mimicked his actions will serve as influences to those that come after them. At the end of the day, all the money in the world can not compare to a college degree. It’s absolutely priceless.

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