Chapter 1: Sports By the Numbers

What are the odds of playing a professional sport?

"The percentage of college baseball players that are drafted is 8.6%. This is the highest percentage in all college sports."

-NCAA Statistics

What are My Chances of becoming a Pro?

According to a 2013 study by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) there were more than eight million high school athletes that played men’s/women’s basketball, football, baseball, men’s ice hockey, and men’s soccer. Out of those athletes 460,000 went on to play at a NCAA school. Those that went on to play at the professional level varied from .9% to 8.6%. Below are the statistics (by sport) for draft-eligible college athletes who were drafted to play a professional sport:


Men’s basketball ................ .1.2%

Women’s basketball .......... 0.9%

Football............................... 1.6%

Baseball ............................... 8.6%

Men’s ice hockey ............... 6.8%

Men’s soccer ....................... 1.4%


One important note is that these figures reflect those players that were drafted. They do not assume that the player signed a contract and made the final roster.

What Happens If I Do Become a Pro?


"Your ‘regular’ life will be longer than your athletic career."

On average, baseball players have the longest professional careers at 5.6 years. Football players on average play 3.5 years while basketball player’s careers last 4.8 years.  Interestingly, a basketball player’s professional career is probably longer considering many play on professional teams in other countries after playing in the NBA. Nonetheless, whether you play one year or 10, the most important fact to remember is that your athletic career will be shorter than your ‘regular’ life. Whether you are in middle or high school, attending a college or university, or making a living as a professional athlete, make sure you prepare yourself with the skills that are necessary for your post-athletic career.


 There are many former athletes who have made a successful transition from athlete to a professional working career. Former Duke Blue Devil Jay Bilas is now an on-air basketball analyst for ESPN. Bilas, who helped Duke win their first national championship in 1986, was drafted in the fifth round of the NBA draft. However, Bilas spent most of his professional basketball career playing overseas. After his career he coached at Duke during which time he received his law degree. During the off-season he is a practicing lawyer.


 Another former athlete who stands out is former Long Beach State power forward Kevin Cutler. Cutler played on a team that included future NBA players Bryon Russell and Lucious Harris. After college, Cutler, who is  6’ 7” 270-pounds, found his way into education as a teacher and school administrator with the Compton Unified School District. While in education he started a career as a basketball referee. He first refereed at the high school and college levels. Today he is a respected NBA referee.


What Careers are Available in the Sports


"The highest paid referees in the NBA make over $500,000 per year!"

If you would like to continue a career in the sports industry there are a number of career paths. Furthermore, as a former athlete you would have a slight advantage over other individuals who want to break into the sports industry because of the connections you have (or will have) established during your athletic career.


 A sports organization at all levels is just like any other business. They require the services of many individuals to conduct its business operations. This includes individuals who work in sales, marketing, finance, and accounting. For example, professional as well as college football teams need individuals to sell tickets (sales), announce the game (announcers), market the team (marketing), communicate with the media (public relations), and people to track revenue and payroll (finance). This combined effort makes up a sports organization.


Non-player Sports Professions

 Furthermore, there are a number of other sports related jobs outside of a traditional sports team. These careers include an agent (lawyer), working for an agency in marketing, and player relations or in sports marketing for apparel makers like Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, etc.


 Professional basketball referees/umpire salaries can range from$50,000 to $500,000 per year depending on the sport and years of experience. However, most college referees have other jobs during the off season and are paid a minimum of $800 per game (as high as $1,800 for the bigger conferences) and per diem. A per diem is a daily allowance for personal expenses. It can be as high as $100 per day.



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