Imagine having a dream to become a professional basketball player. Your parents introduce you to the sport you desire at the age of 5 or 6. From 5 up until your adulthood years you’ve consistently trained, sacrificed time, traveled, played and much more to make this dream become a reality.
Statistics have shown that 535,569 boys play high school basketball in the U.S. 1 in 17 players will play in college. 1 in 8,926 high school players will be drafted to the NBA. 1 in 525 college players will be drafted in the NBA.
For women’s basketball, chances are even tougher. You have 436,100 girls play high school basketball in the U.S. 1 in 16 high school players will play in college. 1 in 12,114 high school players will be drafted to the WNBA. 1 in 766 college players will be drafted in the WNBA. The margins are small with chances being very slim.
Countless hours spent from middle school to high school playing days, camps, club sports etc. Your parent’s investments, missing family vacations, not to mention the recruiting process. A lot of hard work and dedication goes into the desire of these athletes wishing to make there dreams come true. It’s amazing the impact professional sports has on athletes at such a young age. Some use the dream as a family tradition, some follow in the footsteps of their idols and some use it as a way to get out of their current situation.
What goes unnoticed is the transition athletes face after their playing days are over. For example, dealing with depression, stress, self-identity, injury related problems and even the competitive edge they’ve practiced over the years. Some elite athletes possibly never had to work regular jobs growing up based on their sports schedule. From fans, reporters, coaches, media all whom these athletes have encountered in some way over the years. I must say leaving the sport is tough! It has to be a lot on the mental aspect as well. Imagine some athletes never wanting to let go? Think about it, This is your dream, something that you have worked countless hours for over the years. Famous boxing star Floyd Mayweather once said he’s had boxing gloves on before he could walk — he couldn’t see himself doing anything other than boxing.
With the times changing, I think it’s best for athletes coming up to realize the pros and cons that could take place after transitioning from playing sports to the real world. Also, taking matters into your own hands earlier on in their careers. With different social media platforms and other outlets that offer more access nowadays than in the past, it’s best to understand that your identity is your brand, which means you have to make yourself marketable but also have a A, B & C in place. For example, realizing that chances are slim when considering making it pro. Start thinking about exactly what you want to do after sports. Research careers, get involved, talk to people, make connections and pursue an education that’s going to be beneficial. I can’t stress it enough, get involved get to know people. I believe if mentors, coaches, and even some parents continue to preach these things amongst the athletes, certain obstacles faced today could be eliminated in due time.