Chances Your Child Makes The Major Leagues? (Hint: It’s Low)

Dave took a quick pass from John, who had just rebounded the basketball under the opponent’s basket. Dave quickly dribbled down the outside of the gym floor, driving for the basket.

The ball dropped through the hoop just as the buzzer sounded, giving Dave’s team a one-point win! Everyone jumped all over Dave, celebrating the win.

Dave scanned the stands through the crowd, looking for the college scouts he knew were there. Like many high school star athletes, he was hoping to play on a college team. And beyond that, who knows. . .?

Sports are very important in the United States. Sports are a source of fun and fitness for millions. For a very few people, playing a sport provides a living.

According to recent statistics provided by the National Federation of State High School Associations, and Ultimate Baseball, more than 1 million boys play high school football; almost 500,000 play basketball; and about 400,000 participate in baseball. From high school to college, the number of participants drops drastically. Only about 11,000 athletes altogether participate in college football, basketball, and baseball.

Some athletes who do go on to play college sports and have successful collegiate careers can indeed look forward to playing in professional sports. However, only about 8 percent are ever drafted by professional teams, and only about 2 percent sign a professional contract. Even signing a contract doesn’t mean that an athlete will make the team.

The Football Odds

There are 28 teams in the NFL, with 45 players on each team. During the NFL draft, each team gets 12 picks. Only 336 college players are drafted each year out of about 15,000 eligible players. Of the 336 drafted, approximately 160 actually make NFL teams.

Many young athletes think that if they make it to the pros, they will be rich. According to the NFL Players Association, the average player’s salary is more than $200,000 a year. Although this looks like a lot of money, most players’ paychecks will stop immediately if they get hurt and are unable to play or they do not make the team.

The Basketball Numbers

Many boys dream of being a Michael Jordan and being a star on a professional basketball team. But here, too, the numbers reveal some hard facts. There are 23 teams in the NBA, and each team carries 12 players. In the United States, there are more than 553,000 boys who participate in high school basketball. Only about 11,550 of these high school players go on to play college basketball at the 730 colleges with basketball teams. These colleges range from junior colleges to major universities. More than 90 percent of the NBA players come from large universities that are classified as Division 1 schools, such as the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) or Iowa, Kansas, Indiana, or Duke. In Division 1 schools, there are 1,320 starting players. The NBA drafts only 161 players each year, and only 50 new players actually make an NBA team.

In the NBA, the average salary is more than $350,000, but players only get that salary when they play.

Baseball’s Major League

Of all professional sports, baseball has the highest average salary of more than $400,000. There are 725 players on the 26 major league teams. Baseball is somewhat different from other professional sports because of its extensive minor league program. Each year, the major league draft selects players for the 26 teams. A player who is drafted very rarely goes directly to the majors. There are more than 4,000 players on 164 teams in the minor league program, and it usually takes several years at the minor league level to tell if a player has the skills to play in the majors. The salary at the minor league level has been described as just barely enough to live on as a single person.

Professional athletics may look very glamorous and high-paying, yet very few people are able to make it to the pros. Athletics are good for people to develop cooperation, leadership skills, and goal-setting, and to learn to deal with success and failure.

Most coaches stress to their athletes that they should set goals that are realistic, achievable, and have a time frame. Some high school athletes will play college sports and a very few will go on to play professional athletics. The Greeks taught centuries ago that a person must live by the “Golden Mean,” which states that a person must keep things in balance. For teen athletes, this means keeping the balance between academics and athletics, for only one out of every 12,000 high school athletes will become a pro.

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2 Comments

  1. I do like this article. Too many people spend too much time and worry hoping that their children are advanced athletes. Once you look at the numbers, though, it’s clear a lot of that hope is misguided.

    Hey! Raise your kids right, people. Worry about athletics once they have a great head on their shoulders.

  2. Absolutely agree with you Terry. Spot on! There are a lot more important things in life than if you can catch a football or hit a home run, let me tell you. Raising your children to be smart is this millennium’s way. It just is!

    The era of the “dumb jock” has ended!

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