- Only 7% of high school athletes play in college because the bar is being set higher and higher, the cost of living is rising, and it’s not possible for students to play anymore.
- The amount of information being taught in college has also increased over time, reducing free time for students to play sports.
- A good amount of college students prefer not to play sports anymore.
You dream of scoring those much-needed points at the last minute, being carried off the field as a legend, and then getting your crush to finally kiss you — blissful.
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Unfortunately, only 7% of high school athletes play in college because the chances of them making the team are slim, to begin with, but don’t let this hold you back from trying!
College Athletes: What Does It Take To Be One?
Let’s not cut any corners and jump right into the deep end of this discussion. Being a college athlete is hard work. In fact, it’s so hard that many people assume it’ll severely negatively impact your ability to graduate.
Being an athlete has never been easy, and as a college student, that becomes infinitely harder. Remember, while a few college athletes do get paid, most do not.
This means you have to spend:
- More than 20 hours of training per week (even though the NCAA limits training hours to 20 per week, most athletes spend way more)
- Another 5 – 10 hours playing the sport and traveling to different colleges
- 15 – 20 hours in classes per week (harder classes might require more time, and scientific degrees will require experiments as well)
- 5 – 10 hours per week doing extra studies at home
- Another 5 – 10 hours per week doing projects
So, just being a student-athlete will require anywhere between 65 and 80 hours per week. For reference, if you sleep 8 hours per night, you’re awake for 110 hours per week.
Still seems doable, right? You’re forgetting one very important thing … money.
The average cost of a college degree in 2023 sits at just north of $35K. If you wanted to pay that off yourself, you’d need to earn $14.96 – $22.43 per hour, and you’d need to work every free moment you have.
This excludes the time you take for:
- Showering, etc.
- Any socialization
- Family time
- College events
What does it take to be an athlete? Well, enough for someone to sponsor you! That’s simply the reality of the economy of the world. The world of sports has exploded in recent years, and for good reason: there’s more money to be made there than ever before.
So, the reason why only 7% of high school athletes play in college is that it’s too hard, too expensive, and too time-consuming.
Or is it? If that really is the case, then how do other athletes “afford” to play?
Are Students Getting Lazy?
The very first thing you might be thinking is that the younger generation of today might just not feel like a commitment. They might see it as too much work, too much effort, and something not worth investing in.
But the truth is that most students simply cannot afford to become athletes.
Let’s look at the paper “The Making of a College Athlete” published in 2021 to see what we can learn from it:
- It comes as no surprise that growing up in richer areas had a massive impact on the likelihood of becoming a college athlete. In fact, if you grow up in a well-off environment, you’re more than twice as likely to play college sports.
- Those that played for club teams before college (costing $3k – $4k annually) were far more likely to play college sports.
- They also noted that the biggest determining factor behind whether or not you actually play college sports is either your talent or your money. Or, more importantly, your parents’ money…
Long Story Short: Money Matters
Let me tell you a little story about how important money is.
Lewis Hamilton is a world-famous Formula 1 driver — one of the best ever. Growing up, he showed massive talent, way more than anyone had at his age ever before. Yet, his father still had to take on multiple extra jobs to afford to buy his son the equipment he needed.
Today, Lewis is one of the greatest and has been quoted many times saying he owes his success to his dad and his efforts. Unfortunately, not all of us have parents capable of making that sacrifice, and if we don’t, well, the odds of us making a college team decrease day by day.
There are more people than ever before, meaning resources are harder to come by, further increasing the price. There are also more applicants for your position than ever before, meaning coaches are spoiled for choice, again decreasing your chances of being chosen.
This makes the sports scene, in general, more competitive than ever before and ripe with the opportunity for corruption. The days of just being the damn best and that being enough to make the team are coming to a close rather rapidly.
Perhaps it’s time to listen to an entrepreneur course while you do your morning jog from now on…
What Are the Chances Of Being a Student-Athlete?
Now, the big question is how this all fits together. How hard is it to really be an athlete? The simple answer is very.
Not only do we now understand the financial difficulties that lay before new college students, but we actually have a bit of data to look at as well.
- For males, the “easiest” sport to play in college is lacrosse, with odds of 7:1.
- For males, the “hardest” sport to play in college is tennis, with odds of 27:1.
- For females, the “easiest” sport to play in college is ice hockey, with odds of 6:1.
- For females, the “hardest” sport to play in college is tennis, with odds of 28:1.
Now, let’s look at the odds of someone making it to NCAA Division I schools:
- For males, the “easiest” sports to play in college are lacrosse and football, both with odds of 36:1.
- For males, the “hardest” sport to play in college is tennis, with odds of 174:1 (volleyball is just barely second at 172:1).
- For females, the “easiest” sport to play in college is ice hockey, with odds of 24:1.
- For females, the “hardest” sport to play in college is tennis, with odds of 181:1.
As you can see, it’s not looking great. Even when you look at the odds of the “easiest” sports, the chances are still so small that you could barely imagine making it.
Then, add in the stress of balancing sports, a social life, and college academics, and you can see why college sports aren’t the top priority for many high school athletes.
What Can You Do To Increase Your Odds of Playing in College?
As we’ve established several times, it’s rarely the talent that’s the limiting factor. It really comes down to the amount of money that you and your family have. The only “thing” you can try to do as a student is to reap the benefits of social media.
Online marketing through sponsorships has exploded, and it won’t be slowing down anytime soon. If you’re pretty good at something, chances are, people will want to look at how you’re doing it.
Displaying your skills on social media could be the very last trick up your sleeve. Personally, it’s something I’m not too fond of myself, but we can’t deny the world we live in. TikTok stars make thousands a month, and you could, too, if you’re good enough.
Take this advice with a grain of salt. Don’t do something you aren’t comfortable with, and if it intervenes with training or studying, stop immediately.
Why Do Only 7% of High School Athletes Play in College?
There’s no denying that life — in general — has gotten disgustingly expensive.
The original Ford Mustang sold for $2,500 when the annual salary was $6,600. A 2023 Mustang will run you $40K +, and the annual salary in 2022 was $54K. 38% of your annual salary for a car vs. 75%+ of your annual salary for the same car in 2023.
Taxes have gone up. So has gas, power, medicine, and anything else you can think of. The number of people looking to go to college is also increasing, so you can see how money plays a massive factor in determining who ends up going.
What’s more, is that the money invested in a child’s upbringing will also influence their chances as athletes. But when the inevitable injury strikes, only those with medical aid will be able to get good treatment.