Many professional athletes understand the value of time and are therefore attending academic online courses and seminars even while playing professional sports. Since athletes are goal-driven also off the court, they want to achieve their academic goals – which means academic degrees. For that reason, EuroLeague Players’ Association recently partnered with ISDE Law Business School – to provide Master’s degree opportunities for ELPA members.
Four ELPA members are already pursuing their academic degrees through a sports oriented program from ISDE, called Global Master in Sports Management. ALBA Berlin player Luke Sikma, who started his new academic journey a couple of months ago, is one of them. “I decided to attend the program because it was great to have a spot available through ELPA, which is a huge advantage. This degree will be another thing that I will be able to put on my resume. It is interesting to learn about the other side of sports, because there is so much happening behind the scenes. It’s exciting!”, said Sikma.
When asked about how it felt to be a student and a professional basketball player at the same time, Sikma reminisced about his college years. He explained how he manages his time: “I can handle basketball and studies, but it all comes down to appropriate time management. Classes are online, so it makes things very accessible, especially with travelling. You need to prepare in advance and schedule the time for reading and homework, in order to still be 100% ready for each game“.
Apart from Sikma, Tornike Shengelia, Will Clyburn (both CSKA Moscow) and Yovel Zoosman (Maccabi Tel Aviv) also joined the program as part of the inaugural academic group of ELPA members. Shengelia believes dedicating some of the free time to education can also help players on the basketball court: “It feels good to re-direct your mind on something different than basketball. As you are gaining more knowledge, you also become more confident and you learn to be more focused, which then translates back to the basketball court.”
The flexibility of the program allows ELPA members to study at their own pace. However, at the point of the season where elimination games are priority, players fixate only on one thing – games. “When the playoffs start is time to lock in. I am happy to dive back into studies right after the season, but during the playoffs I only think about winning games. It’s the most important time of the season!”, said Shengelia.
By attending Global Master in Sports Management program, ELPA members want to secure their backup plan. “It’s necessary to have a plan for the life after basketball. Obtaining a Master’s degree provides a huge step in that direction. You can’t play professional basketball your whole life. As players we need to have something meaningful in place, such as an official academic degree, to help us make that transition”, added Sikma.
While players direct their attention to off-season activities, ELPA is already working on new academic opportunities and will soon offer additional educational program to its members. Partnership with ISDE will remain a key component of this mission.