Understanding the realities of how few athletes move on from high school to play college sports (and for the lucky few, pro sports) is very important information to have for parents. This week, the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) published a table displaying this data, and it’s something I feel every sports parent should have stuck on their refrigerator. While these numbers might seem defeating to some, in reality it is very important to fully understand the odds of “making it” in sports so that you can make sound, level-headed future decisions when it comes to the time, energy, and money you might spend on sports (and at the cost of investing in other interests and activities).
A number of things are often impacted by knowing (or not knowing) the reality of your child one day receiving a full-ride athletic scholarship or having a chance to one day make a living playing professional sports. Sport psychologists regularly have conversations with parents about these odds, and often center their discussions on the following subjects:
- Sport specialization. Often when parents are unaware of the realities of college and pro sports they will erroneously choose to have their child specialize in one sport very early in life, assuming this will give them a better chance at making it. On the other hand, when parents are aware of the actual data pertaining to athletic scholarships, only then can they make sound, objective decisions around sport specialization versus having their child play multiple sports (sports sampling) for an overall more holistic human growth experience.
- Sports burnout. Again, without knowing how few kids make it in sports it leaves families more vulnerable to greater sports intensity — and a greater likelihood for sports burnout. Unfortunately, many parents assume “more is better” and continue to push their child year-round, and while sport performance might improve some, sports burnout risk increases dramatically.
- Injuries. Again, similar to sports burnout, the more a child plays sports the greater the chance for serious injury. Some of these injuries can be mitigated, however, by approaching sports participation in a rational and responsible way rather than playing in super-intense leagues year-round without breaks.
While talking to kids about the long-shot realities of becoming a college or pro athlete isnt a conversation most people like having, it is a very important one. It is for the reasons discussed in this article that you sit down with your kids and talk openly about sport realities, and how developing a healthy, balanced life schedule is almost always the way to go for most families.
Need more help with understanding the realities of making it in sports and how to prepare for various sport transitions? Click here to learn more.