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High Expectations, Harsh Reality for Student Athletes

I am constantly amazed at the number of young athletes (actually , the parents of young athletes) who expect their child to land a college scholarship and when they don’t look to point the finger, usually at a coach. 

Little League ball player (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

There was a time when this was pretty much limited to high school seniors but believe me this growing epidemic is now starting shortly after little Johnny or Mary first shows some ability on a field or court.

With college costs spiraling out of control landing that scholarship is like hitting the lottery for most families but honestly you might have a better chance of hitting the lottery then watching your son or daughter sign a national letter of intent.   

Speaking of which, those of us at the Shore Sports Network are contacted just about every week by a parent who wants us to announce and publicize the fact their son or daughter has received an athletic scholarship.  The impression is that their child after carefully considering their options has signed with State University and we should join in the pomp and circumstance.   We are led to believe that it’s a full scholarship, which could be worth as much as $200,000. 

In most cases though we are talking about partial scholarships as the average annual scholarship received by a Division 1 or 2 athlete is in the neighborhood of $6,000.  While that is nothing to sneer about and great news it’s not quite what you are led to believe.

Let’s be honest. Most varsity high school athletes will never play at the college level.  According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) a little less than 6% of high school soccer, football and baseball players will play in college and the number is just about 3% for men’s and women’s basketball players.  That’s not scholarship athletes,just college athletes in general. 

With numbers that small it would be logical to conclude that Johnny and Mary have a better chance of getting scholarship money for academics then athletics and that is the case.  However in the world we live in there are no signing day ceremonies when someone receives a full scholarship for what they’ve done in the classroom.

Wouldn’t it be great to cover one in which a high school valedictorian is sitting at a desk with the hats of 5 great academic institutions in front of him and with a drum roll playing picks up the one that says Princeton and puts it on his head while family and friends cheer wildly?  I don’t think ESPN will be covering it any time soon.

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