Show Some Respect to the Minor Leagues of College

JUCO sports is becoming seen as the minor leagues for major universities


Image of Mt. SAC’s slogan from Wikimedia commons.

When a high school athlete finishes their time in high school they have the choice to end their athletic career right then, and there, or pursue to continue it collegiately. If they decide to continue playing in college that would depend on a few factors. If they are good enough they get scouted and are given the opportunity to be awarded a scholarship to play for a major university. Yet, If they are not that fortunate, there is still another option; Junior College.

Junior college athletics is another gateway into the world of college athletics. Junior colleges focus on recruiting local high school athletes by giving them the opportunity to demonstrate their skills before transferring. The competitiveness of junior college athletics can be compared to that of any major university. This high level of competition allows the players to develop their skills as if they played at any university. Junior college athletics is on par with universities in the quality of their sports.

Yet there is one major difference between the junior college and university athletic experience. Junior college athletics only last two years. Once a player has played two years for a junior college, they must transfer to university to continue to play collegiately or stop entirely. These rules allowed universities to benefit. This allowed universities access to another pool of athletes, but this pool would be more developed having collegiate playing experience. This would inadvertently make junior colleges similar to the minor leagues in professional sports.

In minor league sports, the teams are semi-professional and work cohesively with a major sports team. A perfect example is professional baseball with their different class teams. Minor League teams develop the players that are drafted by the professional organization. As the young players move up the levels of the minor league systems they become a polished professional athlete ready for “The Show.” Minor league teams also rehabilitate players that are recovering from injury or revitalizing their career. Thus creating a place for athletes to take the time and develop the skills to perform at the high level they are expected to.

So does this mean junior colleges are the collegiate minor league? No, they most definitely are not. Junior college athletics is one of the highest forms of athletics in the country. The level that junior college athletics play at is just as high as universities and professionals at some moments. Junior college athletics is extremely intense due to the fact that everyone is fighting for a spot on the team and to transfer. This intensity polishes the athletes, making them ready for anything. This can be seen by the manner in which junior college athletes seamlessly transition to playing for a university or professionally. Some good examples of this can be Aaron Rodgers, Albert Pujols, and even Mt. SAC’s own Rachaad White who is tearing up NCAA Football.

Junior College athletics has become notably prevalent in recent years. Athletes are seeing college changing as the years go by. Junior college is becoming a viable choice for athletes to utilize. There has been a trend in recent years for some athletes to leave high school a year early and enroll into a junior college to face stronger competition, which has helped the talent level improve over time. In the past two MLB Drafts there have been a total of 118 junior college players that have been selected to play in the MLB. This number continues to go up as the years progress. Not only is it seen in baseball, but in other sports as well. The NBA, NFL, and NHL all have had their numbers increase in the amount of junior college athletes have entered their leagues every year.

Junior College athletics have come a long way from what people used to know it as. The old stigma of being second rate athletes is no more. JUCO athletes have proven themselves to be just as good if not better than higher levels of competition. Junior College Athletics should not be slept on whatsoever.