A Few Minutes With Oluwole Betiku Jr.
Media relations specialist Vince Lara of the College of Applied Health Sciences speaks with Illinois football star Oluwole Betiku Jr., who leads the nation in sacks and is also a graduate student in the Recreation, Sport and Tourism department of AHS.
Betiku, a native of Nigeria who got his undergrad degree at the University of Southern California, talks about why he picked Illinois and AHS, the future of sports and how he'll utilize his RST degree.
VINCE LARA: Hello. This is Vince Lara at the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois. Today, I spend a few minutes with Oluwole Betiku, football star and RST grad student, who talks about his education.
So I'm with Oluwole Betiku, who is here. He's the leader in sacks in the nation for Illinois. Oluwole, you went to USC. You got your degree in international relations there. Right? What made you pick Illinois? And why RST?
OLUWOLE BETIKU: I mean, obviously, football is a big part of picking Illinois. But RST was, like, I feel like after my international relations background, I wanted to focus of something that was kind of closer to what I do everyday-- to understand sports as a whole, and the business side of sports because that's what I do every day. And even if I'm not an athlete, I would love to work around sports.
You know, RST is one of the fastest growing organizations in the world. To be a manager in sports is different from going to business school, because business and sports are totally different. And I feel like my international relations background-- sports is something that is becoming very global. And different countries have different rules. I already understand a lot when it comes to international relations. Combining that with, like, the knowledge I would get from RST can really give me a step forward in working with any international organization-- which every sports organization is an international organization today. And that's one of the reasons why I picked it.
VINCE LARA: Now, are you taking online classes? Or are you going to class?
OLUWOLE BETIKU: I'm going to class.
VINCE LARA: OK. So have you met a couple your professors already?
OLUWOLE BETIKU: Yeah. I've met them.
VINCE LARA: What do you think? Like, who is the person that you think would have the most impact on you?
OLUWOLE BETIKU: I think the class I'm taking right now-- the issues in sports and everything, where you get to talk about the problems that the sports is dealing with today, and the future problems that's going to come with sports. I think I like that one because, just being an athlete myself, I'm able to contribute a lot in the class, and really talk about issues in my sports-- like the NCAA, or like concussion issues, and how it's going to affect the future of the NFL, and also see all the things that happens is other countries. I could use my background, coming from Nigeria.
You know, they talked about this issue one time, about the way-- in international relations, they talk about the brain drain, how the developed countries brain drain underdeveloped countries for doctors, and, like, all the skilled personnel. And in sports, they say, OK, develop leagues are draining the athletes. You know, I'm an athlete who came from another country. And I said, well, it all comes out today. Like, Medical is a big part of sports. If you cannot provide good medical facilities in your country-- and my country is so corrupt. You don't expect any athletes to be there, because injuries is very big in sports. So it's not about brain drain. And then, if you're paying an athlete 20 million a year. And they're spending 10% of that in this country, you're helping that country's revenue in a way.
So I gave that point in class. And the professor was really impressed with that, because they were like, oh, should the leagues be forced to pay back some kind of money for gaining athletes? I don't think so, because most of these countries, like South American countries, African countries, are so corrupt that the money is not even going to get to the athletes.
It's the same problem with foreign aid in international relations. You sent foreign aid into countries, and it gets lost. It's just really interesting being in class, and being able to, like, use my international relations background, and put it with sports, and really have good discussions, class discussions.
VINCE LARA: You know, you talked about the brain drain. There's quite a pipeline between Nigeria and Illinois, I don't know if you knew that, but especially with AHS. Did you know that? Is that part of the reason why you came here, or?
OLUWOLE BETIKU: I mean, I feel like Nigeria, especially Nigeria as a whole, Nigerians go everywhere. Because the country is just so corrupt, and it's not getting any better. And when the country doesn't have policies set up to, like, promote the growth of the youth and everything, every young person who's smart and athletic is going to want to leave.
VINCE LARA: Yeah. That makes sense. You know, I know football is the goal. Right? Like, you think about NFL, CFL, XFL, wherever it is post-this. But do you think about, post-football, will RST, you think, help you find what your career is?
OLUWOLE BETIKU: Yeah, definitely. Like, you know, I would love to work-- I love to travel. So I'd love to work as an ambassador, or work with politics. You know, sports has to do with politics, so it can be any kind of sports. Look at the NFL right now. The NFL is spreading everywhere. The NBA is everywhere. It expands everywhere around the world with social media. Social media is a big deal.
Sports is becoming bigger than ever. The same way when the train system was invented, you know, people were able to play interstate sports. Flight, when the plane got invented, people were able to travel from country to country, and compete in the world. The way the world is getting closer with the development of the internet, and other new technology, I feel like sports is going to get much bigger than ever. I see RST is really going to help a lot in the future.
VINCE LARA: My thanks to Oluwole Betiku. This has been A Few Minutes With.