Hey Hollywood, how about a new television show called, “So You Think You Can Be A Professional Athlete?” The stats aren’t encouraging.
According to www.ncaa.org, there are a few million high school athletes and more than 460,000 NCAA student-athletes. Fewer than 2 percent of those NCAA players will go pro in their sports.
The probability of competing beyond high school is daunting. A chart on the site demonstrates just how challenging it is for high school athletes to become members of the NCAA and the percentage who then move on to professional sports.
In the example below, the first number represents the number of high school athletes by sport, followed by the percentage able to play at the college level, then the percentage that move to professional sports teams, and finally a summary of the percentage that moves from high school to professional sports:
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Football: 1,086,627; 6.5 percent; 1.6 percent; .08 percent.
Men’s basketball: 538,676; 3.3 percent, 1.2 percent; .03 percent.
Women’s basketball: 433,120; 3.7 percent; .9 percent; .03 percent.
Men’s soccer: 410,982; 5.7 percent, 1.9 percent; .09 percent.
If you’re still interested in pursuing a sport in college, here’s what you need to know.
Your first order of business is to spend some time doing your homework on the following websites:
• www.naia.org –The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, another governing body of college sports.
• www.ncaaeligibilitycenter.org – Where student athletes go to register and begin the recruitment process. The site helps students and families determine academic eligibility and amateur athlete eligibility status.
Prospective student-athletes must register with the Eligibility Center to be considered for scholarships and financial aid.
Here are some things you’ll need to think about as you consider entering the athletic recruitment process:
• Think about the concept of “fit”; make sure the school is a solid academic fit for you as well as a sports/social fit. You want to make sure you will be able to graduate in four years with a solid major and a strong transcript.
• Talk with your coach to help determine at what level you are able to play (Division I, II or III).
• Be responsible in the process and don’t forget to return questionnaires, send film if requested, take standardized tests, send transcripts, etc.
• Visit as many schools as possible (unofficially). Spend some quality time with the coach(es) and other players and ask how they are treated, how well they’re doing in their classes and what their life is like.
• Be honest throughout the process and follow the rules diligently. Be straight with the coaches recruiting you, and look for those being honest with you.