Three times a year there is a major draft for the three main professional sports in America. For two of these sports, drafting a high school athlete is a thing of the past. They have set guidelines in place which only allows them to draft college athletes. This has been a huge step for the maturation of the human being and for the sport. Yet, professional baseball is still able to draft recent high school graduates and grant them with a professional contract, therefore bypassing college. The bright lights and large salaries of professional sports bring a tough proposition upon high school athletes. Some sports have started to require that athletes attend college, but others allow them to turn pro after graduation. There should be a mandate for all professional sports to require athletes to attend college. This not only puts them in a better position to compete in sports, but in life after sports as well.
Don't get me wrong, all young, aspiring athletes have dreams of turning pro one day. This dream starts at a very young age, where kids from all over will mimic their favorite athlete they watch on television. Some even plan out their future, not leaving a single detail out. "J.C. now has his baseball future all mapped out. I'm going to go to Stanford and get a scholarship, and then I'm going to go to the Yankees in the MLB draft" (Kelto). This is a perfect example of what a child's dream should look like. While it may not be that realistic, at least the child understands the importance of college. To be able to attend college prior to turning professional should not be an option, but should be required.
"Roughly 1 in 168 high school baseball players will get drafted by a Major League Baseball team, and just 1 in 2,451 men's high school basketball players will get drafted by a National Basketball Association team" (Kelto). These numbers are instrumental in showing how important college is. For the one-hundred and sixty-seven or two-thousand four-hundred and fifty high school athletes, think about how important college is. These kids might have monumental dreams of becoming pro. But, the reality is that the odds are not in your favor. If you put all your eggs in one basket that someday you will become pro, you will not put yourself in a position to prosper in life. Many parents will brag about their son's accomplishments and talk about how great of an athlete they are, but they do not understand the difficulty of becoming a professional. The ones who make it are extremely gifted and worked extremely hard to put them in a place to succeed. Parents will force their kids to work hours a day or week to grow as an athlete, but where is the time for education. They see the large, million dollar contracts and think their kid needs to have one. But, like the numbers earlier show, the odds are not in their favor. When the professional realm is not an option, there must be a plan in place to help them the rest of their life.
Obviously, there are athletes you have heard of that have succeeded in the pros straight from high school. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant might ring a bell to those of you who follow sports. But these people are anomaly's. In the majority of cases, college will benefit athletes greatly. "That any time spent on campus developing game skills and social graces will produce the better player and more well-adjusted adult" (Araton). College is a place for teens to grow into adults. Their mind matures as does their body. For athletes, it is equally important as a place to grow as a player and mature as a human being. They have great mentors in place to teach them to learn and grow in the right environment. They are not just handed millions of dollars at a young age and have to learn how to behave in the real world.
College athletes are able to develop physically and mentally in a time in their life when it is extremely important. From high school to college there is a great discrepancy in the maturity of the body and mind. The discrepancy is even greater from high school to the pros. The easiest difference for the eye to see is that of the physical maturity. "The first is the fact that the skeletal system of a younger individual is likely to still be growing. Caloric energy is being utilized to expand bones and organs. Muscles are lengthening, and it is difficult to thicken them until the skeleton stops growing--typically in the late teen years" (Merritt). With a growing body, they are not near the physically maturity of that of a mid-twenty-year-old professional athlete. These professionals are lightyears above high school athletes. By attending college, they are given more time for their body to grow and able to take the means necessary to work themselves to get physically stronger. College programs spend a large amount of time focusing on the growth of their athlete's bodies, as they know that to compete at the next level it is important to grow.
College is known as the place to hone your skills or find your passion to head in to the real world and make a life for yourself. The same goes for athletics. High school athletes go to college to find themselves and build themselves to become a professional athlete. The age of college athletes is perfect for the grooming that needs to occur to benefit most. "Many young adults may experience a natural burst in muscle growth during their college-age years when their skeletons have slowed or stopped growing and their metabolisms are at, or near, their peaks. These are generally the years for training heavy and building a base of mass to refine later" (Merritt). Heavy training and building is exactly what is expected from college athletes. They are implanted in programs that are created for their well-being to grow and mature their bodies. High school athletes are not in the right stage of their growth to be able to mature regardless of how much work they put in. Their bodies are not ready to grow that early.
The mental aspect of college is equally as important as the physical. College has been proven to develop the minds of human beings which puts them in a position to earn a better job and income throughout life. We saw earlier how difficult it is to become a professional athlete. So when your dreams are crushed when you don't make it, what will the next move be. Without college, your options are not only limited but the monetary value you can earn is lowered. "Indeed, median annual earnings for full-time working 25- to 32-year-olds with bachelor's degrees grew by nearly $6,700 to $45,500 from 1965 to 2013. During that same time, median annual earnings for high school graduates in that same age group fell by nearly $3,400 to $28,000." (Kurtzleben). To me, this seems like a no-brainer. When the dream of making millions fades, you need to be in a position to make a living for yourself. These numbers show how much a college degree can benefit your earnings. The difference is not a small number either, thousands and thousands of dollars can be left on the table because of thought of being a professional athlete.
For employers, hiring is a very difficult decision. High school students may think that having "professional athlete" on a resume may make them a shoe-in for a job, but the reality is different. Companies love seeing college degrees during the interview process. "Among 25- to 32-year-olds with a college degree, the jobless rate as of March 2013 was 3.8 percent. At 8.1 percent, the rate was more than twice as high for those with a two-year degree or some college, and it was more than three times as high for those with only a high school diploma at 12.2 percent" (Kurtzleben). For example, a high school kid signs a professional contract after graduation at eighteen years old. Seven years later, his playing career is over and he did not make the millions he dreamt of. He is now twenty-five with no college degree and no direction in life. He applies for numerous jobs but hears the same thing from employers, "we require a college degree". The jobless rate numbers speak for themselves when it comes to proving employers look for college degrees on their resume. As great as being a professional athlete was for those seven years, being able to acquire a job after the career is over is a necessity.
Recently, professional sport leagues have been noticing that their athletes, once the career is over, are having a difficult time in their life. Mainly, high school draftees are struggling to find a way of life without the path the college has guided so many on. Basketball and football made it mandatory for their athletes to attend college because they recognized the importance of the institution. Baseball has also noticed and they are making strides towards to eliminate high school draftees. "In the last draft before the new agreement in 2012, 55% of the first-round selections were high school players, followed by 45% in 2013 and 35% last year, the lowest percentage since 2008" (Schneidman). This is an important step, not only for baseball, but for all athletes. To show young, aspiring athletes and their parents that college is the stepping stone to the professional ranks, they will put more emphasis on education than sports. Too many times are parents struggling to make sure their kids are always attending sporting events, but don't encourage the same dedication in the classroom.
Professional sports make millions and millions of dollars each year and this money is based on the product the put on the court or field. The risk of drafting a high school athlete is monumental and might not be worth it to the organization. As big of a risk it is for the athlete to not attend college, it is a greater one to the professional sports team. "College statistics among players are easier to compare based on the level of play of specific conferences or opponents. That is not the case with high school statistics with a wide disparity in level of competition nationally" (Schneidman). It is too difficult to judge talent based on high school opponents. Professional teams are able to judge talent in college much easier, as they are competing against greater talent and their bodies are matured to more of a stage in which shows what their potential will be.
College athletics are a large part of the American society. March Madness and College Football are huge money makers for college programs. Yet, high ranking college officials are trying to keep professional teams from eliminating high school drafts. "Conference commissioners say they want the National Football League and other leagues to change the rule that effectively forces athletes to go to college before they can enter the major league drafts" (NCAA: Pro Leagues). To me, I cannot comprehend this because of the amount of money that the top tier athletes make these institutions. "I don't think it makes any sense to force kids to go to college who don't want an education," said Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby (NCAA: Pro Leagues). We have already seen in the numbers earlier the importance of a college education. Yet, Bowlsby has the audacity to say that eliminating high school drafts forces kids to college. These kids need college because the corporate world demands it. We all know Bowlsby wouldn't be in the position he is without a degree yet he doesn't want to force kids to earn it. Colleges should welcome the fact the professional teams want kids to attend their schools, make them millions of dollars, then leave and represent their schools on television in the professional ranks. This bodes well for not only the athlete and their professional team, but the school they attended.
People dream, and these dreams are able to create a vision that represents who we can be as a person. To not dream to be great is letting you down as a human being. All athletes should strive to be professional one day, but it is important to understand the probability of making it and the life span of the athlete. These are short lived and there is a lot of life to live after playing sports. Baseball is very safe sport, especially in comparison to football, but the lifespan of the playing career is still extremely short. "A rookie position player can expect to play 5.6 years; one in five position players will have only a single-year career, and at every point of a player's career, the chance of exiting is at least 11%" (Witnauer). Five years is a very small portion of one's lifetime. Say the person who played five years began his career at twenty-four, is finished at the age of twenty-nine. This is a very young age to retire for the rest of your life. Without a college degree, the odds of not only getting a job are less, but making a larger salary are less as well. The importance of the college degree even after playing professionally is significant.
Once the playing career of an athlete is finished, they must find a way to maintain another career to create a new income. "Many players do quite well after retirement from baseball. Of course, some players attain relatively low levels of education, ignore the reality that being a major league baseball player is a temporary role, play professional ball for brief periods, and therefore experience difficult transitions into alternative careers, especially since they are oftentimes forced to compete with people younger and better trained than themselves" (Witnauer). Athletes have a long life ahead of them once their career is over, especially those who did not attend college. A transition into the real world is hard enough for recent college graduates, but for those coming out of professional sports with no college it is even harder. There needs to be a system in place which protects these athletes from having to struggle to find life after their sports career.
Professional sports play a huge role in the American society. These athletes are special, who cultivated their mind and body to become the best they can. The careers are short-lived and those who are lucky enough to fulfill their dream still have a life to live once the playing days are over. These post-playing days should be filled with joy after accomplishing something so many want to pursue. The reality is, without an education, it can be very tough. To say the least, there should be a policy in place that requires professional sports teams to only draft college athletes. The mental and physical growth is not only necessary to compete as an athlete, but to compete as a human being when the playing days are finished. We should no longer worry about what an athlete will do when they are finished playing, but be able to celebrate their achievements as the move on to a new passion.