So, your Student is going to get an Athletic Scholarship.

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So, your Student is going to get an Athletic Scholarship.

What are the odds that a student is going to get an athletic scholarship? Look at this chart:

* High school data is from the 2013-14 High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

** Odds of a randomly selected high school athlete going pro are adjusted by the percentage of international players and the average pro career length for each sport. This is necessary to make a valid comparison with the base data of 4 years of US high school athletes.

*** Average career length is based on 2013 study by Sports Interaction.


Looking at statistics can sometimes seem daunting.  Let’s break this down for you.

For every 1,860 high school senior basketball players, 1 might make pro.  For every 764 high school senior baseball players, 1 might make pro.  And the list goes on.  “But you said athletic scholarship, that means college, not pro.”  You are correct, I did say scholarship.  Let’s take a look at those numbers.

Student Athletes Men’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Football Baseball Men’s Ice Hockey Men’s Soccer
% High School to College 2.9% 3.1% 5.8% 5.6% 12.9% 5.7%
% College to Pro 1.3% 1.0% 2.0% 10.5% 4.1% 1.9%
% High School to Pro 0.03% 0.02% 0.09% 0.5% 0.4% 0.08%

Source: National Collegiate Athletic Association. Estimated Probability of Competing in Athletics Beyond the High School Interscholastic Level

 To make a pro team is obviously difficult, but college should be much easier.  There are a lot more teams, different levels, and less talent.  It should be easier, right?  Well it is easier, but not by much.  For every 1000 high school athletes, on average, 60 will play at the collegiate level.  Of those 60, 12 will be lucky enough to get a scholarship.  That means that most student-athletes will need to need to pay for college and compete for a spot on the team.  What that means then, in a different context, is that grades will be more important than sports for 98.8%.

 As a former high school and college athlete, I will never say that sports are not important.  For me it was a way to burn energy, put pressure on myself, create bonds, learn how to work as a member of a team, etc.  But I also learned the importance of the work-play balance.  That might have been the most valuable lesson learned.  My mother and grandfather instilled an important priority system, whether intentional or not, that laid the groundwork for my life as a student-athlete.

 TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS OFF THE FIELD, THEN TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS ON THE FIELD.  It was reinforced by countless coaches I had the pleasure of playing for in my younger days.  Coaches who were more concerned with my development as a young man than their own glory as a coach.  Don’t get me wrong, they wanted to win as much as we did.  But my development was never sacrificed for winning.  Grades were expected to be good, I was expected to be in class AND ON TIME, curfew was enforced on road trips, and no negative off field incidents were acceptable.

 Today’s standards are a bit different, and might be for worse unfortunately.  Young people now are no different from young people in my day or my grandfather’s day.  Maturity is still something that develops over time, but what has changed is the acceptance of immaturity.

 Getting bad grades is more of a sign of immaturity than anything else.  It’s the thinking that as a young man or woman, you know more than the adults around you.  That you somehow know how important school is and that what is learned in school is useless to your life.  As an athlete, however, you could not be more wrong.

 For some very talented athletes, few may receive a scholarship and be lucky enough to make the team.  For those fortunate 1.2% of students, you must remember that you must still compete, you must meet the requirements of the scholarship (grades, practice time, minimum school enrollment, and various other requirements), you must maintain professionalism on and off the field, and you MUST REMAIN HEALTHY.

 The last part may be the most important part of why grades and education should matter.  To compete at a high level, you constantly break your body down.  Injuries are common and many are career threatening.  If all your eggs are in the one basket of athletics, you run the risk of not having much to fall back on or run the risk of having to start over at an older age.  That can be scary.

 If you look closely at the statistics, the obvious conclusion is that most athletes should put school first and work their sport around their academics, contrary to what I observe in most cases.  The not-so-obvious conclusion is that all athletes should play baseball.  It’s the only sport in which if you are able to make a college team, your probability of making a professional team actually doubles!

lighthouset, on in Uncategorized

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