Enlightened Conflict

college athlete to professional something else

April 6th, 2015

odds never n our favor

“How passionately they explain the numbers and how much they emphasize the deck is stacked against athletes varies between institutions.

It is a message that a lot of coaches don’t want to send.

And it’s a message, frankly, that a lot of athletes don’t want to hear at this stage in their lives.”


Mark Nagel



Lloyd Christmas: What do you think the chances are of a guy like you and a girl like me … ending up together?

Mary Swanson: Well, Lloyd, that’s difficult to say. I mean, we don’t really…

Lloyd Christmas: Hit me with it! Just give it to me straight! I came a long way just to see you, Mary.

The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?

Mary Swanson: Not good.

Lloyd Christmas: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?

Mary Swanson: I’d say more like one out of a million.


Lloyd Christmas: So you’re telling me there’s a chance … YEAH!


Dumb and Dumber


athletes -collage








Let me be clear in using a dumb & dumber quote I am not going to be suggesting college athletes are dumb. If anything I believe people would be surprised at how worldly and smart and hard working 99% of college athletes are.





With the NCAA men’s basketball finals tonight I wanted to take a moment and talk about the link, or the lack thereof, between playing collge sports and playing professionally.



I thought of this when during one of the semi final games I was asked how many players move on to the NBA. I guessed maybe 5%.



I was wrong.


Just using Division 1 it is 1.2%


There are 347 Division I college basketball teams. Each team offers 13 scholarships.


That’s about 4,511 Division I college basketball players this year.




In addition.



265 teams in Division II, 325 teams in Division III and 259 teams in NAIA.


That’s about another 11,000 players,
Using Division 1 alone … only 1.2% of college basketball players will be drafted by a National Basketball Association team.


Less will end up actually playing.






This means less than ½ of 1% of total college basketball players will play in the NBA.







“Professional” doesn’t have to mean the NBA because there are a lot of other options around the world, especially in Europe, Israel, Turkey, etc.


And, to be clear, there are not a lot of Division III student-athletes who think, or know, they are going to play in the NBA. Overseas professional leagues are pretty numerous <even if they don’t pay as well as the NBA> and the idea of spending at least a year playing in and getting to see another part of the world while getting paid is pretty attractive … especially to students focus more on their studies than many Division I athletes – especially those who want to play in the NBA.


athlete 98All the caveats aside … this means 98+% of college athletes never play professionally.



And while we watched Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin and Michigan State all play an incredibly high level of basketball … 98% of them will not play professionally.






That was a semi stunning thing to write.


You watch Kentucky and Duke and think High School All Americans and it will be a given they play professionally.


Yikes. Not so much.






So maybe the elite of the elite may send 2 … maybe 3 at best to be drafted … in one given year … and then maybe half of those are actually NBA worthy. But this is the best of the best and over a 5 year span the % drops significantly.



Playing professionally, in any sport not just basketball, is … well … a pretty long shot.
In January a guy named Jake New tackled this topic.



College athletes vastly overestimate their chances of playing professional sports.

The problem is so pervasive that Mark Emmert, the NCAA’s president, devoted significant space to the issue during his most recent state of the association address, saying that “athletes often have incredibly unrealistic perceptions of their professional prospects.”

According to NCAA surveys, more than 60% of Division I college men’s ice hockey players think it’s likely they’ll play professionally, but less than 1 percent ever go on to the National Hockey League.

About 45% of Division I women’s basketball players think they have a chance to play professional basketball, but only 0.9% of players are drafted by a Women’s National Basketball Association team.

<The NCAA said that it is currently procuring data on a player’s chances of joining other professional leagues, such as those in Europe, but the information is not yet available>

Men’s hoops players are the most unrealistic. More than three-quarters of men’s basketball players in Division I say they believe it is at least “somewhat likely” they will play professionally. More than half of Division II players say the same, as do 21 percent of Division III players. Only 1.2 percent of college basketball players will be drafted by an National Basketball Association team.





We <colleges and adult influencers in general> don’t help.



While the NCAA actually does a pretty good job marketing the fact that athletes should have realistic expectations and that ‘the majority of college athletes go on to do something better’ <note: I do like their message and the campaign>.



Colleges kind of derail the message by promoting their successes <by the way … not in percentages but rather by individuals>.



For example … some colleges list the individuals who have attended the university and gone on to fame and professional playing <not noting that these are actually exceptions and not the rule>.



For example … on its recruiting website, UCLA is described as “#1 in Olympic Gold Medals from 1984 to 2008″ and “#1 in professional athletes.” And UCLA is very open in saying that for athletes who do dream of going professional the information can be helpful when choosing a program <note … I used UCLA but I could have used any big time college sports program and maybe not used #1 but some marketing of program success as an example>.




In addition … parents and adults and gobs of books promote “if you work hard enough you can attain it” or even “believing you can do it is the path to actually doing it.”



This means that colleges simply feed into what has already been planted in an athlete’s head. Some guy named Gershon Tenenbaum, a sports psychology professor at Florida State University, calls it the “self-bias phenomenon.”



And adults clearly exacerbate the situation with some relatively absurd levels of adulation with successful athletes.



things to know

I actually believe most young athletes are aware the %’s associated with professional sports is very low <even though they may not be aware of the NCAA research or specific numbers> but young people are hard to convince … not only do they want to be seen as some statistic but we actually encourage them to be the exception.




Personally I know I have a love/hate relationship with regard to how my own parents managed my love of sports and whatever ability I may have had.


They constantly stressed the low likelihood of being good enough to play professionally and were relentless with regard to me not ‘wasting my time’ on sports and focusing on other things therefore I always had a pretty good perspective on my abilities and ‘chances’ … all the while I had coaches tugging at me to play and practice and ‘maximize’ the ability I did have.



I am not sure it was the tug-of-war was the best thing for my esteem but it certainly gave me a realistic point of view when the time came to hang up my cleats & glove.



But it is not easy.


By the time you reach college level of sports you know you are ‘good’ … and have attained at least a higher level on the athletic pyramid. For years an athlete moves on to higher and higher levels of competition and by getting to a college level an athlete actually gets to a level that is maybe 95%+ higher level than your peers.



In basketball … a little over 3% of high school men’s and women’s basketball players make it to the college level. mature 69 percent


In football … maybe 6% of high school football players make it to the college level.



Success breeds some confidence … but the research also suggests it also breeds some delusional thinking with regard to what is possible.



What the hell.


You made it this far … why not all the way?



And in today’s world <which is NOTHING like when I grew up> we have elevated youth sports to such a level we almost create a celebrity status to not only successful teams <which inflates the egos of the individuals even if they are not stars> as well as the actual stars themselves.



We, adults, do this because we tend to believe confidence can elevate talent … or that a higher level of confidence can help overcome any real odds of ‘yikes, we should lose this one.’




Breeding confidence in a young person is a delicate balance and we adults are anything but delicate with regard to the young & sports.



This actually creates the “athlete student” problem <note: I did not say student athlete>.



We have created a breed of young athlete that considers academics beneath them because they are “going to play professional sports.”



Yes. This is a delusion for most.


But those who could actually judge talent the best, coaches, have no incentive to create a work ethic in academics <or social skills, emotional maturity and improving their reading, writing, and analytical skills beyond elementary school in order to “win” at something bigger> unless it is associated with ‘eligibility.’





We can find some coach exceptions.



But then there are we adults … who fuck everything up.



The head of the NCAA has clearly stated … “explaining to athletes that their passion — and years of hard work — is not likely to lead to a career is an uncomfortable but necessary conversation to have.”

listen hand


“How can we help them understand the realities of what that looks like?

What can we change to give them a more realistic sense of it? How do we get a handle on that?

How can we provide them with a greater sense of the realities and what that looks like?”




The NCAA clearly advertises: “there are 400,000 NCAA student-athletes, and almost all of them will go pro in something other than sports.”
Young athletes don’t always absorb the message.


But that is mostly because we adults haven’t learned the delicate balance of managing reality, dreams and confidence.
Reality is tough.

Reality is often captured in some harsh truth.



I could simply suggest that later tonight one team will go home as a loser.


It would be harsher to suggest that of the 26 young men who walk onto the court most likely 90% of them, the elite players on the elite teams, will leave the court and do something other than play professionally.



Has anybody told them that?


athlete dream reality

Would they play the game a little bit harder or with a little more passion or a little more ‘this is it’?





I don’t know.



What I do know is that I will watch the game and be amazed by the talent and skill and sheer joy of the game … and know that most of them will have to figure out a way of making a living doing something other than playing basketball.

global warning part 4 or climate change discussion enters the ludicrous stage

February 20th, 2015


enlightened conflict think

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

Mark Twain






If you had asked me in 2010 when I wrote about climate change if we would still be debating climate change 5 years later I would have said “are you crazy? .. no way.”



<links to my 2010 ‘global warning parts 1, 2 & 3 are below>

Good thing I didn’t bet any money.



There is still crazy debate over <a> whether there is truly any climate change occurring and <b> the role of people with regard to any change.


climate change writing

In whatever articulate brilliance I could sum up in 2010 I was able to express my overall point of view on climate change in USAToday:




<in 2010>

I just wrote something for USA Today because I finally got fed up with all the ignorant people writing in every time there is a big snowstorm about “so, where are all the global warming people now!”

I have kept my mouth shut for a very long time reading all the global warming “quips” every time it snows … but I have had it.

What I said (approximately):


I am a skeptic.

The data is confusing, the experts are confusing, and the issues are confusing.


It’s too bad the entire issue got stuck with global warming. It’s climate change. Or maybe just water warming. (see glaciers melting as proof – ignore climate data)


(and most important to what I keep reading about the snow)

Global warming is not about every place becoming warmer it is about changing weather patterns. Larger swings in weather activity (colder and warmer). It is foolish to link the phrase ‘warming’ to “more snow today.” it is quite possible your weather pattern translates into a stronger drought somewhere in Africa or torrential downpours in South America or whatever.



All the ongoing debate seems to suggest we don’t understand that avoiding the problem doesn’t solve it.







Why is this ongoing ‘debate’ now verging on ludicrous?






Suffice it to say a survey of thousands of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals has found 97.1% <now I believe it is over 98%> agreed that climate change is caused <in some degree or another> by human activity.

Climate Consensus AndResistance2


At minimum they agree humans contribute to climate change.



Suffice it to say the survey findings reflect a near unanimity.



And you would tend to believe this provides a powerful rebuttal to climate contrarians <often called “deniers”> who continue to insist the science of climate change remains unsettled <or they simply focus on ‘not all people agree’ as their argument>.







The survey considered the work of some 29,000 scientists published in 11,994 academic papers and only 0.7%, or 83, of those articles disputed the scientific consensus that human activity contributes to climate change.



All one can truly conclude if you have even one iota of common sense is … well …. this:




“Our findings prove that there is a strong scientific agreement about the cause of climate change, despite public perceptions to the contrary.”

John Cook of the University of Queensland


hope versus positive thinking




At some point it would seem fairly rational to concede that some pretty smart people who truly have a reputation to maintain <so they cannot all be ‘bought’ by some liberal agenda or corporate money> have reached a close enough total agreement that it is ‘truth’ and maybe we should move on to the next phase.





The next phase? That would actually be doing something.



In the end.



Be cynical if you want.


Be skeptical if you want.


But, please, be reasonable.


(Quote from AndrewofBrooklyn, 2009)

It is true, as the skeptics like to point out, that long-term climate modeling remains an inexact science. Some environmentalists hurt their cause by leaping to blame every extreme weather event on global warming.

And a changing climate produces winners as well as losers.

But climate scientists are 95% to 100% sure that human activity — emission of greenhouse gases — is the dominant cause of dramatic warming. That warming is already raising sea levels, acidifying oceans, melting glaciers and intensifying heat waves, downpours, droughts and wildfires.




That’s it.



I am slightly disgusted, certainly disappointed, that we continue to debate & discuss the wrong things.



It is time that we begin to use our best weapon, knowledge, and look for a solution that is practical and safe.


It will take a lot of work and it will not be easy … but I am confident we will find it <once we actually get aligned and get going>.

thinker thumbtack



———— Addendum ————



I added this because the newest ‘climate change denier’ attack is on Antarctic sea ice. I added it to show that while many may try the “it goes against common sense” argument … scientifically multiple data points tell a story and not just one factoid.

smart kid point

2014 is set to be one of the hottest years on record.

This comes at a time when Arctic summer sea ice melted to its sixth-lowest extent this year: 1.9m square miles. 2012 still holds the record, with just 1.32m square miles of sea ice by the summer’s end.

At roughly the same time, Antarctic winter sea ice hit a record high of 7.76m square miles. This seeming contradiction in polar ice conditions has armed the arguments of global warming deniers: while the climate might be changing, the results at a global scale seem to be “evening out”, right? If the total amount of ice on the planet’s surface remains the same, does it really matter where it is?

The short answer is yes.

More sea ice around Antarctica does not make up for less in the Arctic Ocean.

christmas ice


How is Arctic sea ice different from Antarctic sea ice?

The Arctic consists of an ocean surrounded relatively closely by land, while Antarctica is the inverse: a polar continent ringed by a massive sea, the Southern Ocean.

Around Antarctica, however, sea ice conditions have historically been more changeable because there is no land blocking the ice from spreading out across the Southern Ocean and encountering warmer winds and waters around its edges.

“It’s like the difference between a room and a wall,” says Ted Scambos, a lead scientist with the US National Snow and Ice Data Center.

“In the Antarctic there’s one wall, but in the Arctic there’s four walls” surrounding the Arctic Ocean.

Before human-propelled climate change began to warm the Arctic, the summer and winter extents of Arctic sea ice were fairly consistent from year to year, and a good deal of Arctic sea ice would endure over multiple years to form a resilient, year-round layer of ice over the ocean, helping to keep temperatures cool.

That has changed in the past decade.

While more than half the Arctic ice pack used to be multi-year ice, says Julienne Stroeve, a research scientist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, “after 2007 and 2012, big ice loss years, about 70% of the ice pack was first-year, and the rest multi-year.

“In 2013, less than 5% of Arctic sea ice was five years or older,” Stroeve says. “In 1980s-90s, 20% or more was five years or older.”

What’s causing the unusual decrease in Arctic sea ice?

Climate change is increasing temperatures in the world’s far north at a faster rate than in lower latitudes (an effect sometimes called “Arctic amplification”). Over the past half-century, average temperatures in the contiguous 48 US states have increased by an average of 1.7F (1C) above historic norms, while those across Alaska have gone up an average of 3.4F(2C) year-round, and 6.3F(4C) in winter.

<source: The Vital Signs platform>

SmartBaby answer


some semi-smart things I have said about climate change:




Enlightened Conflict