Chances of Going Pro

Guest post

This is a guest post from Alexander Hawke. He is an outdoors enthusiast, advocate for youth sports, and an all around great guy.

Did you ever dream of being the next Peyton Manning or Darrelle Revis? While playing sports is fun, it’s hard not to think about making it to the pros one day… That being said, the road to becoming a professional athlete certainly ain’t easy. The chances of going pro aren’t in your favor. It’s something only 1% of the top 1% achieve.

Actually, it’s even less.

So, what do the numbers look like?
Take football for instance, only the top 8% of the top 1% of the top 1% of high school football players will make it to NFL. The chances of going pro as a middle schooler are a miniscule fraction of that.

The NCAA recently published an infographic breaking down the chances of going pro from high school to college, and from college to the majors leagues:

NCAA - Chances of going pro

NCAA – Chances of going pro

Let’s focus on football. There are 1,093,234 high school football players in the United States, and 6.5% of those high school players (or 71,060) will play in college. The drop off from college to the pros is even more dramatic: only 1.2% college-level players will get drafted to the NFL. Even then, being a successful professional athlete is yet another hurdle to tackle. In short, roughly 853 players (0.00075%) make the pros each year out of an original population of nearly 1.1 million high school athletes. To put that number into perspective, that’s about the odds of getting struck by lightning at some point in your life.

To take this one step further, only 1 in 1,282 high school footballers will be drafted. Considering the average high school football season is about 10 weeks (excluding the playoffs) and there are 50-60 players per team, the average high school football player has a 50% chance of never even encountering (playing with or against) a future pro player during an entire season.

Does this mean I shouldn’t let my kid play sports?
Absolutely not! The benefits youth sports greatly transcend whether the chances of going pro are in your favor or not. My point here is not to crush any young player’s dream. I only want to point out how difficult of a journey it is to the pros.

The value of playing youth sports is entirely in the journey and not the endpoint. Especially while kids are in the development period of their life, sports provide much needed structure and camaraderie that kids take with them as they progress through life. The mentorship of a coach, the hard work it takes to become a top team, the friendships and post-game snacks – that is what makes youth sports what it is.

How do I apply this as a parent?
Think back to when you played youth sports. Did you play because you wanted to go pro or did you play because you loved the sport? It’s important to remember that while on the sidelines, it’s not your job to push your kid to become good enough to make it to the majors. Your goal should be to support and nourish their development, so they grow up to be healthy adults.

That’s a tough cookie to swallow when you’re investing in gas for long road trips, shoulder pads, gatorades, and icy-hot packs, but remember that playing sports growing is a huge indicator to professional success as well.

So sit back, and just enjoy the game.

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