The Real Score
asddThere’s no denying the multi-million dollar opportunities that exists in the sports world. With African-Americans making up over 70% of the NBA and NFL, it’s easy to see why so many young Black men aspire to be the next Kobe Bryant or Adrian Peterson. Although that is a high percentage and very good odds for a talented athlete, the truth is that not only does it take an unimaginable level of talent, it will also take sacrifice, discipline, hard work, practice, and one thing many people don’t consider….grades! The truth of the matter is that there are only 450 players in the NBA total and 1696 players in the NFL. When you do the math that means there are only 320 positions in the NBA and 1221 openings in the NFL. That’s about 1,541 total positions between the two African-American dominated leagues. That’s it. And to drive home the point even more, that’s TOTAL positions. If we were to account for the percentage of superstar players that are locked into their contracts any given year, that number probably gets cut in half!
I’m not here to discourage you. Though the odds of making it to the pros may be improbable, they are not impossible. There is one way to increase your odds of going pro, and ironically, it is also the best way for preparing in case you don’t make it. Go to a great college! See, many people get so focused on the limelight of professional sports, they forget the stepping stones to get there. Yes, stepping stones. Going pro is never an overnight process. Remember the numbers we talked about earlier, well what if I told you that only .03% of high school basketball players actually make it to the NBA and .08% make it to the NFL. With such a slim number of players making it that far, do you think those that do just happen to get lucky? Yet those that make it to a good college increase those odds by a whole percentage. While the chances are still small, the numbers don’t lie. Going to a good college increases your chances of making it big.
Why is college so important? Well for one, in order to even be eligible for the NBA or NFL draft you have to be a certain age and show you can compete on higher level. So college is mandatory to play pro ball anyway. But maybe more importantly, college exposes and preps you for a world of opportunities that you may have never been familiar with before. For instance, did you know the average CEO of a Fortune 500 company is compensated at about $11.4 million per year? Yet, while we are so busy focusing on pro sports, the average NBA salary is only $3.4 million and NFL is only $1.9 million with an average career only lasting 3.5 years! That means over the entire career for the average NFL player, he won’t even come close to making what a CEO makes in 1 year!
Even if we give the benefit of the doubt and say you are good enough to make it to the pros, we just said the average NFL career only lasts 3.5 years, and the average NBA career spans just under 5 years, so what do you do with the rest of your life? Most professional players are retired by their early 30’s, so what do they do with the next few years of their life, especially if they don’t have a college degree because they went pro before graduating. You may say, well I made a few million, I’ll just live off of that. But you may be forgetting that a million dollars isn’t that much money when you’re around a bunch of millionaires. You want to live in a nicer neighborhood, drive a nicer car, send your kids to a nicer school, all those things add up quick! You will need something to fall back on after sports, and what better than to have an abundance of possibilities because you have a college degree.
Because we aren’t exposed to the vast number of other career opportunities. We see black on TV and think, that could be me. I like to play basketball and I’m pretty good at it. Or, people are always telling me how great I am at football, maybe I can go pro one day. We see the thousands of fans screaming on television. We hear about the big contracts they sign. We watch MTV cribs and see how well off they are with the big mansions and expensive cars. Who wouldn’t want that life? Sure they are glamorous, fun, celebrity careers, but the issue is that they only a handful of very gifted people will ever achieve that success, meanwhile, there are thousands of other high paying career opportunities that are neglected by black men because we never stopped to think about anything other than sports. You can still pursue your dreams to play ball under the bright lights of a sold out arena, just don’t neglect the most important step of getting there and securing your future beyond sports, going to a good school!!
Ricky Teems is the author of “The Healing of Love & Laughter”. For more information go to www.rickeyteems.com .
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