Anyone that has sat in the stands of a youth sports event will eventually overhear a parent talk about how their child is planning to be a professional athlete. The parents sole focus is making sure their child gets noticed above the other kids. The poor kid is brainwashed at age 12 that he must achieve greatness in his or her sport. Sure the kid is good at the Little League level and even improves to be a star athlete in high school, but that is where most pro dreams die. The odds of going on to play at the NCAA level are incredibly low and astronomically low that they will reach the professional level. This doesn’t deter those parents who are sure that their child is the one to beat all odds. They have hired private trainers, sent their kids to sports camps, played year round on club teams, and have all the latest equipment. Education takes a back seat to all the demands of being a future superstar. I always wondered if these parents just put half of much effort in to their kids school work as they did sports if the child’s chances of being successful in a non sports field would greatly increase. I was there…sitting in the stands with the other parents watching my three children play years of baseball, softball, and soccer. I would daydream that my kid would go on to be a star in college and maybe make it to the pros but not to the point of being obsessive about it. We still kept close watch on their school work to make sure they would make it to college with their brains if athleticism didn’t quite cut it. Over the 20+ years of watching youth and high school sports I only knew of one local kid who made it to the pros in baseball and he is struggling in the minors to get the call up to the majors. That is one kid out of about 1,000 that has even come close. Baseball provides the best odds to go pro due to the number of teams, roster size, and the many minor league teams. Plus it’s the one sport every parent is an expert in, so with the parents help it will be a sure thing that the kid goes pro. Let’s say your child makes it to the high school level in baseball which is very possible if he has any talent at all. The odds of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball being drafted by an MLB team is about 0.5%. Of those kids drafted to the minor leagues only 1-in-200 will make an appearance at the big league level. That is depressing given that a recent survey showed that 15% of parents with kids playing high school baseball expect their son to turn pro. And baseball has the highest chances of any major sport. About 0.09%, or nine in 10,000 of high school seniors playing high school football will eventually be drafted by an NFL team. Basketball is about 0.03% of high school seniors that will be drafted by a NBA team and soccer about 0.4%. Basically there is less than one-half % chance that your child will be playing professional sports and 99.5% that they will not. Time for parents to sober up. I don’t contend that the children should stop playing sports as I think it is a great social experience and builds friendships as well as keeping your child physically active. I also have found that you can spot a kid right away who has the potential to turn pro. They are years ahead of other kids their age in ability and stand about a foot taller than the rest. My point is that parents should have a PlanB available to them should their kids not make it to the pros…most notably education. The odds are in your favor if parents monitor the child’s schoolwork and make sure they get acceptable grades to get in to college. Sure you can hope for some form of athletic scholarship which about 1.5% of high school senior athletes will achieve , but the odds still favor an academic scholarship to help pay the bills. A perfect balance would be a talented athlete who is also good student, but that is asking a lot, and if you have to pursue one or the other the safe bet would be on education. Sure most kids would rather be outside playing ball rather than studying for an english test, but a balance has to be set early in life and most importantly the parents have to set realistic goals for their children. Telling your kid that he will be a professional athlete is just not realistic. Sure you don’t want to spoil a kid’s dreams but as they grow older and enter high school it has to be about what is best for the child, not a parents dream of having their child turn pro.


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