Lindsay Cronin gets real about the cost of sports and the pipe dreams of high school athletes going pro.
Lindsay Cronin, Sports Editor • March 5, 2015 - The Speaking Eagle
“Cost of a Dream”
Many athletes play sports because of the numerous life lessons, memories and friends they make with a team. I firmly believe sports are valuable for those reasons, and take part in them myself, but they are not the only way to gain these experiences, and more young athletes should think carefully about what sports involvement costs them versus the goals they can reasonably achieve.
There are numerous benefits a player learns from participating in sports, but it is foolish many young people spend the time and money they do when odds of making pros are low.
An article from the New York Times called, “The rising cost of youth sports, in money and emotion,” published on Jan. 16, states if the amount of money put into a high school competitive athlete was put in the bank and invested over time, the athlete and his or her family would have enough money to pay for the students’ undergraduate college education, around $20,000. Out-of-state tournaments, jerseys, food and extra training are a few of the activities that add up. The memories and inside jokes are priceless, but the amount of money is unrealistic.
I am not saying time and money put in sports is not worth it, but where is it going? While certain fitness and lessons can be learned through athletics and are beneficial to life off the field, one can find these lessons at less cost. Parents and their athletes need to be aware of the slight chances of going to “the big leagues.” It is imperative to have goals and dreams to be a success, but being realistic is key.
Athletes also have an added pressure on them—parents. Many parents expect their child athlete to earn a Division I scholarship, be an incredible player, and enter a professional league to earn millions of dollars. The probability, however, is low.
If parents want their children to be the next Mia Hamm or Peyton Manning, they need to let their children find their own drive. It is a parent’s job to encourage them to be their best no matter where it takes them and to love and support them, not live through them. While it is clear many athletes play sports to pay for their education, most times it should stop there. It is ideal to make a passion one’s career, but being a professional athlete is not the answer. Finding a benefical life-time career after one’s physical condition is no longer capable is a goal.
Our generation as high schoolers is spent training to later commit to colleges that serve as full-time jobs. Teenagers are being told to grow up faster, but they need to slow down and cherish one of the best times in their lives. Children are being raised to start a sport young, fall in love, and try their best to accomplish goals of epic proportion. The problem comes when the goal adds on stress. Thousands of dollars to participate, lack of sleep, less focus on homework and school, and lack of free time with friends and family and high amounts of stress are all part of the child athletics lifestyle.
While playing a sport and being engaged seems all fun and games, it will end—sometimes at the mercy of one’s body in unpreventable circumstances.
According to the NCAA in 2013, .03 percent of high school athletes make it to the NBA. The chance of making it pro and becoming the next Michael Jordan is not realistic.
High school football stars have a .08 percent chance to make it to the NFL, and baseball players have a .50 percent chance of going to the big league. There is only a .07 percent chance for high school hockey players to make the NHL, and .09 percent of soccer players go professional.
The facts need to make athletes realistic about their chances. Sports are important and every person has the right to love and play them. But don’t lose sight of reality. Students should persevere in their hard work and stay balanced. Whether putting time into academics or athletics, open your horizons and dedicate yourself to something worthy of your college tuition. If you work hard at something, no matter what it is, you can go far. -