Monday, April 24, 2006
The NFL Draft – Most Will Not Make It to the League – Then What?
Todd M. Kays, Ph.D.
Chances of Playing Football in the NFL
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
Take a look at the statistics above. It clearly shows that only a very small percentage of collegiate football players make it to the NFL. With years of preparation and hope and then not making "The League", what do these young men do? Where do they go from here? This issue needs much more attention at the college level because approximately 98% of the young men playing football in an NCAA college will no longer play football. We need to help all college football players take a realistic view of professional sports as well as assist them in seeing themselves in others ways besides as a "football player"
On draft day, most everyone in the country will be focusing on the players that make it to the NFL. All of these young men deserve the recognition and praise coming to them. What about the ones, however, sitting at home and never getting a phone call from their agent? As one can see from the statistics, the chances of playing at a professional level are extremely rare. Furthermore, 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 football, but it is challenging enough to make it to the highest levels in high school let alone in the pros. Much more focus has to be placed on college football players in assisting them to develop other parts of their identity as well as preparing for a another life route in case football does not work out.
Many of these young men have had the dream of playing in the NFL since they were a child and what a wonderful dream to have. For most considering the NFL, football has been the major part of their lives and the largest source of their identity. If this identity is to an extreme, we call it "exclusive athletic identity". The individuals with this type of identity who do not make the NFL many times have problems with adjustment after a life without football. Football is something they have known and played their whole life and suddenly it is not there anymore. They sometimes hit the "wall" and have to face the reality that they will not be playing organized football anymore. This transition and acceptance is a very emotionally painful process. They need assistance when this event does occur, but it is also college administrators and instructors' responsibility to help these athletes explore other parts of their identity long before the draft so that they have a back-up plan in case football does not work out.
Some college football players do prepare for a life without football. They explore other parts of their identity and prepare for a life after the games are over. They explore college majors, career options and also know themselves as more than just a football player. They obtain this process throughout their collegiate career. The ones who do not make the League and possess an "exclusive athletic identity," however, the problems are just beginning. These are individuals who have played football all of their lives, possess very minimal identity outside of football, and have not even thought about a career or life without football. These are the individuals that need our assistance and colleges need to do a better job of helping ALL collegiate athletes explore and discover other parts of themselves. Indeed, it is just not the sport of football - the statistics regarding a professional athletic career are similar in baseball and basketball as well. Thus, listen up college instructors and administrators – we all know the stats, so let's do something about them!
*Statistics taken from SportKid Magazine, 2005