As yet another NCAA College Football signing day has come and gone the tremendous number of African-American males who play high school football and fill out the rosters of Division I College Football programs is astonishing. Although many have attempted to forge arguments explaining this phenomenon as being a natural by-product of African-Americans athletic prowess, raw athleticism is insufficient to secure a roster spot on a major college football team, let alone one’s growth into a professional football player. During my travels through life I have learned that the things we invest our time upon will invariably pay off in some form of success. These players are a testament to that mantra. Put simply, time equals success.
To verify the above contention one needs to look no further than African-Americans males’ disproportionate success in football and basketball. Considering their athletic prowess, it stands to reason that African-American males spend a disproportionate amount of their time honing their craft in hopes of making it to a professional league. In 2014, African-Americans made up 78% of National Basketball Association rosters and 67% of all National Football League players.
However, in regards to athletics, the formula of time equals success is not totally reliable. According to the NFL Players Association, the chances that a high school football player will make it to the NFL are about 0.2 percent. Out of 100,000 high school football players, only a paltry 9,000 will ever compete at the collegiate level. Of the 9,000 players who compete at the collegiate level, only 215 will ever make it to a professional roster. Put simply, out of 100,000 high school seniors, only 215 of them will make it on to a professional roster for any period of time.
Making this time investment even worse is that according to the NFL Players Association the average length of a professional football career is 3.3 years. Put simply, the average NFL player will be out of the league by the time he is 25 years old. Predictably, the NFL’s pension plan requires players to complete four years in the league before they are eligible for benefits.
Put simply, the voluminous time that so many African-American male football players have spent pursuing an occupation that only .2% of them will ever secure for slightly more than three years makes the time invested in training their bodies and skills foolish at best. It is time that the African-American community begins to seriously re-evaluate the emphasis that it allows its children to desperately pursue fleeting careers in the entertainment industry (singer, rapper, producer, actor/actress) and professional sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB) as if there are no other opportunities available to them. We all know that the current path is rife with broken dreams and disappointments; sadly, many of those who “made it” invariably find themselves destroyed by these industries.
So although I applaud the young men who signed a Letter of Intent to attend a university during the recent NCAA Football Signing Day, I hope that they view their athletic abilities as a means to secure an education that will guide them towards a successful non-athletic professional career regardless of their making it to the National Football League. I have tired of seeing the destroyed lives that follow our young men when they place such a singular focus upon athletics and ignore all other opportunities and facets of life.
James Thomas Jones III
©Manhood, Race and Culture 2015