2012 National Signing Day (February 1) is the day when reporters focus on the top high school football players committing to recognized programs such as USC, Michigan, LSU, Texas and more. While these players will be mentioned on ESPN, Sports Illustrated and other outlets there are athletes in different sports and football players competing at NCAA DII and DIII levels who are also making their decision.
We wondered, what about the other millions of high school athletes that aren’t on the road to going pro. Who are they? How smart are they? Where are they from, and where are they going in life?
Since BeRecruited has the largest database on high school student athletes, we figured we could answer a lot of those questions.
First, we looked at what sports students play. We focused on the top six sports by participation across the country. As the graphic below shows, Track & Field and Cross Country is the biggest participation sport in the country, followed by Football and Basketball. What’s interesting is that of those kids that have ambitions to play in college, Football and Basketball are the biggest sports. There are a couple reasons for this:
- Football has more players per team than most sports, so there’s going to be more people playing it
- High School Track & Cross Country teams often have huge participation per school, regardless of performance level. Often times a Cross Country team can field as many runners as it would like, whereas Football, Basketball and other sports have try-outs and strict roster limits.
Second, we looked at where they come from. What states churn out the most student athletes? Overall population is the primary driver, as the top 10 states in population have the top 10 number of athletes. No huge surprise there. But its interesting to note that while New York pumps out a bunch of student athletes, it contributes a bit less than its overall population would indicate. Texas, on the other hand, pumps out 9.2% of all student athletes while its population suggests it should only be 8.2% of all student athletes. Maybe kids are bigger in Texas.
Third, we dove into their academic profiles and found some interesting stats. High School athletes that want to go to college are significantly smarter than the average high school student. Their GPAs were well above the national average of about 3.0. This makes sense, as desire to go to college is usually correlated with a higher GPA. But even more interesting is that performance among student athletes seems to be increasing faster than their non-athletic peers! We looked at average SAT scores over the last three years. If you’re taking the SAT, you likely want to go to college. And SAT scores for student athletes registered with BeRecruited have increased 30 points, while the national average has stayed about the same.
What’s even more interesting is what student athletes want to pursue once they get to college. Over 20% of student athletes want to major in subjects related to Engineering, Science and Technology. These aren’t fluffy majors! Another 15% are interested in Health & Medicine, making a difference on those around them.
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