There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. ~ Nelson Mandela
In pursuit of your passion, is it worth risking everything? Only you can answer that; only you can put in the hard work, and only you can make it happen. Is it easy? No, it isn’t.
But nothing is harder than waking up every morning to go to a job that you hate.
I’m a huge football fan. Okay–I’m actually a tall football fan. Finally, my favorite team, the Seattle Seahawks, won their first Super Bowl in February, 2014! With the NFL draft recently completed, and training camp in full swing, I’ve been reading some of the articles and blogs questioning how the Seahawks can win another Super Bowl after having lost some key players. And I noticed a common theme among the responses.
Many fans are angered (or jealous) that athletes earn millions of dollars. They call them “whiny rich athletes”, or complain that they’re getting overpaid to play a child’s game. You often see a similar attitude expressed towards anyone who earns a LOT of money.
Why all the hate?
Is it easy to become an NFL player? No. In fact, it is phenomenally difficult. Do they all earn millions? Many do, but not all. And not only do they risk injury in practice and during games, they have a very short career, if they succeed at reaching the level they hope to.
Odds are not even
Children dream of becoming NFL players, even though it’s incredibly difficult to succeed at the professional level. Statistically, just about 215 out of 100,000 high school seniors who play football every year, will ever make it to an NFL roster. That is 0.2%! Does that justify getting paid a lot of money? I’d say so, but let’s take it a step further.
Out of the 9,000 players that make it to the college level, only 310 are invited to the NFL scouting combine, which is the arena where NFL teams make decisions on who they’ll take on their team. So most athletes who dream of becoming NFL players and work towards it, simply won’t make it.
Let’s look at the pool of 3,500 players who could be chosen just to audition for an NFL team. In 2011, only 254 players got a chance to show their stuff. In other words, approximately 7% of the players that are eligible get drafted. Just 7% of the best players in the country make it to a tryout. Then, if they are drafted (chosen) they have to compete with every other player on the team to keep their spot. Those are some tough odds!
Who wants to be a millionaire?
It should be noted that, despite what most people think, not all NFL players are paid millions each year. As an example, in 2012 the minimum salary for rookies was $390,000. Earning close to half a million obviously doesn’t suck, but when you consider the work, the odds against sustaining success, and the risks involved, is it really sufficient pay?
At the age where the million dollar contract should kick in, many careers are over. That’s right: the average length of an NFL career is about three and a half seasons–not even four years! Although there are many players who have careers that last longer than the average, most only stay active for those few years. They’d better invest their money wisely, because what happens after that? They’re faced with the challenge of finding a new career, while they’re still in their early to mid twenties.
And what if they get injured? Their career can be over before it even starts. And the risk of a permanent disability is very possible, which makes pursuing any other career challenging, if not out of the question.
Those are the risks they take to do what they love, to pursue their passion. Although on the surface it might seem that all NFL athletes are millionaires, that isn’t the case.
They make approximately 1.2 million over the course of three years and they’re done. If you earn $30k per year for 40 years, you’ll have earned 1.2 million as well. Same pay, different way.
Hard work and honing of skills are not enough to reach the elite status of an NFL player. Because there’s so much competition, a potential NFL player must excel in many categories on and off the field.
In addition to strength, speed, and agility, players must possess the ability to listen and follow direction, intelligence, concentration, and the discipline to stay out of trouble off the field. If you’re a football fan, you’ve seen this can be a real challenge for some players.
They have to work hard all year long, to reach their goal. In the off-season they have to stay in shape, and during the season they are locked in meeting rooms, at practice (in the heat), and are required to watch film of other teams. It’s nonstop work. And for this they have a short career that doesn’t always set them up well enough for the future.
Snow Job or Dream Job?
Let’s forget the average job many of us have chosen to accept, does your dream job have the same risks? If so, is it worth it? I’ll bet it is. If the risks and odds are less than what’s outlined above for an NFL player, then what are you waiting for? Even if there’s a high risk, that means the reward is even greater. Say hike and run with the ball!
Unless a man believes in himself and makes a total commitment to his career and puts everything he has into it – his mind, his body, his heart – what’s life worth to him? ~ Vince Lombardi