Much like video games, there are levels to the competition of play in sports. Much like videos games, these levels in sports get harder to do as you go on to the next. These levels begin for athletes at a very young age, but really come into focus when reaching high school varsity athletics. They become subject to a pass or fail concept, such as making the team when there are cuts after tryouts, or whether or not they are given a starting spot and guaranteed playing time, or they are benched and not likely to see the court, field, or ice for the majority of their games during the season.
However, once an athlete excels in these levels, making the team and flourishing in their starting roles, the next level is much harder to achieve, and often is what sends these dominant scholastic athletes into shock. Athletes who excel in high school often want to or believe they can compete at the next level, and more often than not become extremely surprised.
Take Basketball, Baseball and Football for example, three of the most popular American sports. According to the NCAA, 3% of high school basketball players play for a varsity team in college, just 7% of all high school baseball players go on to play at the collegiate level, while only 7% of high school football players go on to play at the collegiate level as well. According to scholarshipstats.com, just about 7% of high school athletes went on to play a college varsity sport when looking at the 2016 to 2017 seasons, while less than 2% of college athletes went on to play division 1. With how many people play sports in high school, compared to the number of people who play in college, you’d have to think it hurts so many to accept their athletic careers are over.
George Richardson is an athlete whose shared this same shocking and gloomy experience that many other former athletes have gone through. Richardson, who was a 3-time first team all-league baseball player in high school, was eager to go on to play in college after graduation. Unfortunately, after tryouts for the division 3 St. John Fisher Cardinals, he didn’t get the results he was hoping for. “I was pretty confident just because I played well on varsity for four years. I thought I was at least going to be a decent player off the bench”, Richardson said. Shortly after tryouts, Richardson later learned he didn’t make the team, his baseball career was over. “I was, surprised, but also pretty pissed off. Definitely more pissed off than surprised”, said Richardson.
When the coach told Richardson about his decision to cut him, it only traumatized him even more, because his explanation gave George a glimmer of hope that he would still have the chance to pursue his collegiate baseball career. “After tryouts, he told me I would have the opportunity to tryout again the spring, so I literally worked out all semester, and played catch and went to batting cages all the time. Then at the end of the fall semester, I went back and asked the coach if there was still an opportunity to tryout again in the spring. He just laughed and said no”, Richardson said.
You could tell by the change in George’s tone of voice, his facial expression, and the color of his face turning red as a tomato that this really crushed him. Many athletes are extremely passionate and emotional about what they do. It’s their main focus, the one thing that truly gives them joy. Playing sports can be an emotional rollercoaster, and can be filled with tremendous let down. This is an example of why anyone whose given the opportunity to play on a team and compete should always cherish every second of it, because as the numbers show, there’s only a select few of people who get this opportunity, and there is a much larger amount of people who would kill to have it.