Friday, September 23, 2005
What Are My Child's Chances of Playing in the Pros?
Todd M. Kays, Ph.D.
Athletic Mind Institute
We all have the dream at some time or another of having our children play a professional sport when they get older. It is a wonderful thing to think about from time to time. Parents want to give every opportunity to their children to be as successful as they can be in their lives. There are many ways to be successful, including academics, music, sports, and careers, but the lure of playing sports in the professional ranks is sometimes a dream unmatched. But what is the exact reality of a child playing a professional sport? Let's explore this issue further.
The number of youth involved in organized sports in the United States is estimated to be over 50 million (United States Census Bureau, 2000). This includes all youth sports such as Pop Warner, Little League and many other sponsored and organized programs. The numbers involved in organized sports dramatically decreases as one goes from youth to high school to college and finally to the professional ranks. The main reason for the crease is that individuals are not skilled enough to play at higher levels. There are other reasons for the "retirement" from sports, such as lack of interest, more interest in other types of activities, and injuries, but lack of skill is the number one reason.
Take a look at the statistics for playing at higher levels in the sports of boys' baseball, basketball, and football*:
Basketball: 2.9 % of high school seniors play basketball in an NCAA college
1.3% of college seniors are drafted by an NBA team
.03% of high school seniors are drafted by an NBA team
Baseball 5.6% of high school seniors play at an NCAA college
10.5% of college seniors are drafted by MLB
.5% of high school seniors are drafted by MLB
Football 5.6% of high school seniors play football at an NCAA college
2% of college seniors are drafted by NFL
.09% of high school seniors are drafted by NFL
The chances of playing at a professional level are extremely rare. The statistics above represent just the chances of being drafted – this does not include actually making a roster or even playing. Many young athletes and parents think they are going to have a career in professional sports, but it is challenging enough to make it to the highest levels in high school sports. As one can see, most are forced to retire from sports after high school and only a small few are able to continue at the college level and an even smaller amount are able to reach the professional ranks.
As parents, we never want to deter dreams. We want our children to excel and try to achieve their highest and perform their best in anything they might undertake. The statistics above are not meant to squash any dreams, but rather to educate and bring a reality to parents and student-athletes to the commitment, time, and skill required to play sports at the highest level. Thus, is it wonderful to dream, it is wonderful to strive for excellence everyday, but it also wonderful to be prepared for what it actually takes! Have fun and play well!
*Statistics taken from SportKid Magazine, 2005