Another Little League season will be starting up soon for the 2 million plus kids across America that are lucky enough to participate in one of the best parts of childhood. We at The Renaissance Fan love Little League and the opportunity it provides for kids to have fun, learn about teamwork, and experience a wonderful sport. What we do not love are adults, either coaches or parents, who take youth games far too seriously. For those overly intense coaches and parents of Little Leaguers, allow us to be the ones to burst your bubble: Your kid is not going pro in baseball because of what happens today. In fact, they are most likely never going pro at all. Let us show you why, and hopefully bring you back to reality where you can simply enjoy these moments in your child’s life.
As stated earlier, there are about 2 million American kids playing Little League this year. If your kid is one of them, then congratulations, you’ve made a great parenting decision. But understand that there are a lot of obstacles and some long odds between where your kid is now and playing shortstop for the Yankees. The next stop in their career might be high school ball. The jump from Little League to high school is the easiest to make. About 1 in 4 Little Leaguers get onto a high school roster. But remember, a lot of kids that play Little League have no interest in playing at a higher level. So if your kid has the desire to play in high school their odds are likely a little better than 1 in 4, particularly if they attend a small high school with less competitive try outs (if there are try outs at all).
The first major hurdle in advancing their baseball career is getting on a college team. About 1 in 15 high school players have the opportunity to play in college. That might sound like pretty decent odds, and if your kid is a standout high school player this may seem encouraging. However, there is a huge range in the quality of different college programs, from the elite major league recruiting schools like North Carolina or Florida State, down to Division 3 schools that MLB scouts have never even heard of. As you would imagine, the odds of getting into a really good college program are a lot worse than 1 in 15.
Once in college your kid will be competing against the best of the best for a very limited number of spots at the next level. Only 8.6% of all college players get drafted into the MLB. So, in college, your kid will need to be better than 10 out of 11 other college players who also made it that far because they were really good, to get drafted into the MLB.
Just getting drafted by the MLB may seem like it’s mission accomplished for some, but being a minor leaguer is a far different experience than going to “The Show”. Life as a minor league player is hard and far from glamorous. But of course once your kid has made it to this level the odds of making the last leap to the active roster of an MLB team are not terrible, but there are still no guarantees. About 1 in 3 minor leaguers “get their cup of coffee” on a major league team. Some of those stick and become the next Derek Jeter, many sink back down into the minors, never to see the “Bigs” again.
So now let’s rewind all this and look at the odds of that one Little League kid winding up getting his name called as he steps up to bat in Yankee stadium. The odds of that are, very conservatively, 1 in 2,667. Which may not sound too bad, but let’s give it some perspective. Say there are 100 kids in your child’s particular Little League. Is your kid realistically going to be the best out of all of them? Now throw in the kids from the leagues in 25 other towns. Still the best? Because that’s the realistic depiction of their odds. Oh, and did we forget to mention that all the odds shown up to this point only factor in Americans? About 1 in 4 MLB players are not American. So your kid will also be competing against kids from the Dominican Republic, Korea, Venezuela, etc… they are nuts about baseball in many of these places (and they play year round).
So by now you get the point. Getting paid to play professional baseball is a really tough job to get. But not impossible. Obviously every pro player is somebody’s kid, so a tiny minority of parents have experienced the joy of seeing their child become a professional athlete, and that could be you too. But regardless of how good your kid is (or you think they are) seeing them reach the pinnacle of baseball is still the super long-shot scenario. But there’s good news here. Do you know what is not a long shot, and is in fact, almost guaranteed? Your kid’s chance to have a great time playing the game of baseball right now. So parents and coaches everywhere, don’t worry about the future careers of Little Leaguers, don’t even worry about if they’ll play in high school. Make it fun now. Then, the kids that truly have the talent to rise to the top and make it to the major leagues someday will have a deeper appreciation for the game of baseball. Which is, after all, still a game.
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