Personal development programing is officially on the agenda for collegiate and professional sports organizations. However, budgetary issues and other priorities have prevented personal development programing from climbing to the top of the agenda in the collegiate sector. The professional sector has witnessed and clearly understands the need to move personal development programing for the athlete to the top of their priority list.
Rodger Goodell stands front and center when issues arise concerning NFL players conduct as any CEO of a multibillion dollar business would. However, the CEO hires and delegates duties to a number of highly qualified individuals, who are responsible for making sure that the mission of the organization or the directives of the CEO are carried out. In the area of Player Development or in this case, Player Engagement the man in charge is Charles Way.
Charles Way is head of the NFL’s Player Engagement division and oversees the continued evolution and implementation of the NFL’s support programing for players and their families. These programs include the Rookie Symposium, NFL Total Wellness, and career development programs. He is a former NFL player and for the past 14 years has served as the director of player programs with the New York Giants.
Mr. Way: If we are to create a culture of excellence, then we must create an atmosphere that athletic achievement is just as important as academic and personal achievements. As a league we have a responsibility to create that standard and culture of excellence.
Mr. Way: I think it is a societal issue, and I believe we have a great opportunity to take ownership and redefine it for our country.
I would also add that the entire process of personal development programing for the athlete should really begin on the high school level and continue throughout the collegiate level.
We are addressing a number of personal development issues at the youth level. We currently have our NFL Prep 100 and NFL-Wharton Prep Leadership Program. These youth programs are proactive and productive and address a number of sport-related and societal issues.
Mr. Way: We have to realize that domestic violence is color blind and is not just an African American male issue, it’s a societal issue and we have done a great job of putting the right individuals in place internally and externally to address this issue.
Mr. Way: Yes, however, at a certain point, it’s up to the athlete to take ownership of his career path. We all know the average NFL career lasts three years, which means athletes competing in the NFL do not have much time to prepare for life after sports, that’s why it’s important for them to start early and make it their priority when they come in as a rookie. I will also say, that for the guys that do have a plan, the transition is still a tough one, and that’s why the NFL, NFLPA, and other organizations have created resources to help them through that process.