starDreaming of becoming a college or professional athlete?

The fame and the fortune of being a professional athlete can be very attractive to an athlete in high school or college who is trying to figure out what to do with their life.  What's better than taking something that you're really good at and making lots of money with it?  What a young athlete needs to be aware of is the facts.  The number of high school athletes that actually go on to play college and pro sports is extremely competitive, and that's putting it mildly. 

Take a look at some research from the NCAA listed in the table below.  The table shows six different sports broken down by the percentage of high school athletes who go on to play for a college team, how many of those college players go on to play professionally, and ultimately how that translates into the percentage of high school players who get the chance to go pro. 

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.

Let's take a closer look at some of these numbers.  The most competitive appears to be for those who play basketball.  Approximately three percent of male and female high school basketball players go on to play college basketball, and only about one percent of those players turn pro.  Consider the number in terms of how many high school basketball players actually turn pro.  According to the estimations, only 0.02 to 0.03 percent of high school players end up playing in the NBA or WNBA.  Think about that number.  That means out of every 10,000 high school players, only two or three will ever get the chance to play professional basketball!

No one wants to squash your dreams.  If you think you've got what it takes, then, by all means, you should pursue it.  It is important, however, to be realistic.  Have a  backup plan.  Even if you are good at something or even great at something, it seems that there's always someone out there who is faster, more consistent, or more clever.  If you are one of those skilled enough or lucky enough to make the cut, keep in mind that sports injuries DO happen. 

GCIS has several assessments that can help you identify other interests or skills you may have so that if Plan A falls through, you're prepared.  In all likelihood, you're good at something else either in addition to or in relation to sports.  While you're getting that high school diploma or college degree, remember that it's important not only to play hard, but study hard.


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