Sporting Talent Fails By Ignoring Parental Negativity

Young stars seeking a career as a professional athlete need to develop the character to make it to the top

Photo by Sebastián León Prado on Unsplash

If you are a talented young sportsperson and your parents don’t respect that, then you need to change their mind.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. For most of us, our parents are the people that have created us and we have a deep worn respect for them and their views. Not only that but, we tend to respect their views on things especially because in general, they know us so well.

However, our parents are wrong if they don’t see the sporting ability that a young person has.

For many parents, it’s a struggle to separate their lives from when they were growing up and the lives of their offspring. Simply put, this is because they know how they felt about life then and how life has turned out for them since. The choices that they made when they were young has led them to this point in their lives now and ultimately, as they want the best for their children, they error on the side of caution when it comes to advising their son or daughter about seeking out a career as a professional athlete.

In many ways, parents are correct to assume that it’s a tough career path in trying to make a living from top-level sport.

So, let’s look at it from a parent’s point of view:

The National Collegiate Athletic Association had nearly half a million athletes (480,000) in 2019 alone. Yet, of them, only a few made it to Olympic or elite level professional sport. In looking at a potential career in sport from a realistic point of view here are the facts of five professional sports (from the NCAA) and the likelihood of gaining a professional career in sport:


From 2019 there were 1,217 draft picks. Nearly two thirds (791) of them were from NCAA schools which were either division 1 (D1), division 2 (D2), and division 3 (D3) schools. Just over 56% of those were from D1 schools (686), less than 8% came from D2 schools (95), and an even smaller number than that with less than 1% (10) coming from D3 schools.

Of those that made the draft, less than a third (28.5%) got selected in the 2019 MLB draft.

Men’s basketball:

Regarding men’s basketball, nearly 87% (52) of those athletes that claimed the draft spots were NCAA players with less than 5% of those eligible were chosen in the 2019 NBA draft.

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Women’s basketball

Similar to men’s basketball, 86% (31) of the women drafted for the WNBA involved NCAA athletes. A notable point here though is that all of those drafted came from D1 colleges only. Less than 3% of the women who were eligible draft players were chosen for the WNBA draft.


All of the players that were drafted in the NFL in 2019 were from NCAA colleges with just less than 4% of those having attended D1 colleges before being drafted.

Men’s ice hockey:

In men’s ice hockey things are different. Only 4 players from the NCAA rosters were among the 217 athletes drafted to the NHL in 2019. However, similar to the other sports, all of those players attended D1 colleges.

So, let’s look at it from a young athlete’s point of view:

From a young sports person’s point of view, they have talent. They feel energetic. They feel confident. They feel as if they can rule their sport now, and for a long, long time to come. Because, they don`t have general life experience and probably have not had any massive rejection in sport or life at that time age, they have no reason to expect that they’ll fail to make it to professional sport.

If the young person has good ability, has a deep desire to succeed, is open to learning, and keeps their grades up, then they can make an impact in the sport. Once they make some form of impact, then they can learn how to begin making an even bigger impact the next time they perform. If they strive to continually improve, there are no limits to their development especially because many young people simply give up along the road to success.

However, a young person having superior ability and doing everything to maximize their chances of playing professionally will still not guarantee a place at the top level of sport.

Young sportspeople must also look at it from a professional sporting organization’s point of view.

The sporting organizations’ point of view:

Sport is a multibillion-dollar industry. It is a business. Never be fooled to think it is not. Many young people who have bundles of talent fail to make it to the top of the professional sporting tree and often this occurs because they fail to see it from the organization’s point of view.

Elite level sporting organizations look at young athletes for more than their sporting ability. Many of them look at athletes depending on their character as a young person. So, even if a young person does not have the very best of talent, there are possible avenues into professional sport if they are willing to develop their character. One way of doing this is to be open to seeing things from other people’s points of view.

This is a talent in itself.

If a sporting youth’s parents do not see their talent from their child’s point of view, it proves that parent does not have the skill to see things from another person’s point of view. However, if a young person can understand that other people’s points of view are as important as their own, then they will begin to develop a better-rounded character.

Coincidently, this is the skill of empathy and it’s what all great leaders are short of nowadays. Smart sporting organizations are only beginning to look at this human trait in greater detail. If a young athlete shows empathy to their parents and their parents show empathy to their child, this will show an important element of teamwork to a prospective professional sporting organization.

So, show empathy, and begin to beat the odds of making it in professional sport.

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Dr. Conor Hogan Ph.D.

Dr. Conor Hogan Ph.D.


Forbes, INC. & Entrepreneur Magazines, CBS, & NBC Featured, Dr. Conor Is The World’s Leading High-Performance Neuro Socio-Psychologist & Co-Authored 4 Books