High school athletes rarely continue to play at the college level

Talent, cost and race play role in declining numbers

Nathan To, News Editor

Across the United States, almost eight million high school students participate in school sports programs. The number of student-athletes sharply decreases from high school into college, dropping to about 460,000 college athletes.

Students fail to continue their high school sports into college for numerous reasons, one of them being the skill gap between high school and college athletics.

“It’s a big jump every level you go up; the stats show the majority are not good enough to play at the next level,” Bear Creek golf coach Chris Zerme- no said. “Kids don’t realize how good they have to be to play in college.”

Another factor is the amount of time necessary to play sports at an elite level while at the same time balancing schoolwork and

academics. Some students say that they hardly have enough time to participate in high school sports because of school, let alone engage in college sports.

“I couldn’t do swim this year, I was just way too busy with school and work,” senior Michael Park said.

Another underlying reason students may be unable to continue sports into college is the high cost of playing at a high level. Many competitive sports require parents to foot the bill for equipment and competitions; one in five families of an elite high school athlete spends over $1,000 a month on sports according to The Atlantic. Because of these costs, many lower-profile but higher cost sports such as sailing and lacrosse are dominated by white students.

“I do cheerleading, and it’s super expensive,” senior Julia Ford said. “You have to pay $2,000 a year for uniforms, and I’ve had to travel to London to cheer with the All-American team, that was $5,000.”

According to the NCAA, out of 232 Division I athletes on a college sailing team, none were African American. Eighty-five percent of college lacrosse players were white, as well as 90% of ice-hockey players.

“When it comes to college athletics, football and basketball command the most public attention,” associate editor at The Atlantic, Saahil Desai said. “In the background is a phalanx of lower-profile sports favored by white kids, which often cost a small fortune for a student participating at a top level.”

The difficulty for many students to continue their sports into college could be a possible contribution to a declining participation rate in high school sports.

“I’m not planning to play in college, so sometimes it seems like high school sports don’t matter,” senior and varsity soccer player Rachel Moffett said.

Across the nation, the overall participation in high school sports decreased by 43,395 athletes in the 2018-2019 year, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Elev- en-player football, the most popular high school sport, declined in participation in 44 of the 51 recorded states and the District of Columbia.