To Play Or Not To Play: High School, College and Going Pro in Sports

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You might’ve had the bat in your hands since age 3, or the skates on your feet since age 5. But where does that lead once you get to high school? Does your love for the sport drive you to play in college?

For some athletes, it can be a really hard decision to make, whether to continue your career collegiately or not. Sometimes it depends on the future after college and whether there’s a chance you could get drafted and make it big, or it maybe just depends on when you’re ready to hang up the jersey.

According to Kirsten Clodfelter at College Covered, playing a sport gives you a community as soon as you step on campus – your team. “This can be a helpful foothold as you transition to an unfamiliar environment and that initial community can last throughout your four years,” said Clodfelter. Many athletes might consider this to be a big draw to continue to play the sport. But it doesn’t mean there are reasons to also be doubtful about it.

Kailey Weinstein (21) a former softball player chose to let go of the game after high school. “I played [softball] for pretty much my whole life up until college. I just felt like it was time to focus on my academics and move on after high school,” said Weinstein, “It’s always hard to say goodbye but I knew I wouldn’t play after college so might as well take that time to set up my future.”

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With men still being the main focus in sports, it’s even harder for women to get recognized as professional athletes when trying to make it pro. Unfortunately sometimes this can cause lack of motivation to play any longer, knowing that you won’t be able to hold The Stanley Cup one day and celebrate it as a woman.

According to the NCAA, nearly 8 million students currently participating in high school athletics in the United States, only 495,000 of them will compete at NCAA schools. And of that group, only a fraction will realize their goal of becoming a professional or Olympic athlete.

Jake Saparito (22) was once a lacrosse player in his high school days. “I could’ve gone to a low division school and played for the team and got no playing time and not been able to focus on my future, since I knew my sports career wouldn’t go any further than that.” said Saparito.

Anyone can dream of making it pro, but it’s a whole other ball game. For example, the percentage of making it to a Division I (DI) school out of high school for men’s baseball is 2.2%. Most often athletes are drafted out of college and the DI schools are going to be looked at first most likely. The percentage of college athletes making it pro is 9.9%, which again really slims down the chances of the success of an athlete after high school.

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So what makes it worth playing in college? A deep love for the sport could make you want to ride it out, or even taking chances and working so hard to make it to the big leagues outside of college.

“Research also shows that college athletes are employed at slightly higher rates than non-athletes and female college athletes report being more engaged in their work, which can boost professional potential,” said Clodfelter.

Playing a sport can add value to your life both during and after college, but you need to be mindful of the challenges that come along with college athletics.

Sara Rondeau at National Scouting Report (NSR), says there are three benefits to playing sports in college: Future employers look for intangibles, life lessons learned, relationships you build. And of course there is always the possibility of playing in professional leagues beyond school.

Even though there are benefits to playing sports in college, nothing tells you what it’ll guarantee for after. Statistics show that going pro after college seems to be almost impossible for some sports. Even though the numbers can be discouraging, it doesn’t mean it isn’t possible at all. The sports industry is always about working hard and taking chances.

3 Benefits of Playing College Sports

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