There are 351 Division I schools with men's and women's basketball teams, yet there are only 30 NBA teams and 12 WNBA teams. There are 120 Division I football teams, and only 32 NFL teams. According to Business Insider, only 1.2 percent of all men who play basketball in college and 0.9 percent of all women go on to play professionally. Only 1.7 percent of all college football players go on to play professionally. The numbers are similar for all other sports, with baseball (11.6 percent) having the highest percentage of student athletes going on to ever getting paid for the sport they play.
This leads to two questions: What happens with the other 90-99 percent of college athletes after their eligibility is up? What is being done to make sure their talents are being utilized beyond the playing field?
While the first question may be impossible to fully answer, there is an individual who is committed to providing an answer to the second. Akili King is tweaking the Startup Weekend model to unleash the inner entrepreneurs inside student athletes across the country.
Akili King believes athletes can help shape the future of entrepreneurship by inspiring youth throughout the country. He should know, he's both: a former college football player with West Point and Oregon State University. After getting cut by the 49ers, Akili went on to serve his country. A grunt in Afghanistan, Akili was a member of the U.S. Army Rangers who walked for 46 hours as a part of Operation Red Wings to save Marcus Luttrell. Now he's leading a different charge today as he prepares to transition out of the military. The lessons learned as an athlete and soldier help Akili as he advises Biz Model Athlete, the winning team from Oregon State's Startup Weekend and serve as a Partner in Aquadrop: A meta collective company whose mission is to provide clean drinking water to the entire world.
While it might sound strange at first to most who are neither soldiers, nor athletes, it makes all the sense in the world to many who are. After all, soldiers, athletes and entrepreneurs all pull from a similar set of qualities: focus, discipline, grit, the ability to listen and learn from coaches/mentors and a determination to overcome obstacles and learn from failures.
Entrepreneurship is a contact sport. Startups require teams who work together toward a common goal. This might be something a Red Bull guzzler might need to learn, but it's how soldiers and athletes are trained before they set foot on the court or battlefield.
If you know of an NCAA athlete interested in playing in the startup world, contact Akili King to learn how you can get ready for the next season in your life.
If you know a soldier about to transition into civilian life, feel free to contact Akili, as he's developing a Military Startup Weekend to let soldiers and their families explore entrepreneurship.
What if, entrepreneurship isn't just a job, it's the fifth quarter for those who still have some game left in them?