These days, most pro athletes have selected their sport by the time they’re high school sophomores or juniors. That means they stop training in other sports and focus on one for the entire last year or two before college. It’s unfortunate, because eliminating other sports at an early age is detrimental to an athlete’s overall development as a person. It certainly wasn’t like that 10 years ago. But times change, and now athletes have to make career decisions at a young age. There’s no simple guide to this kind of thing. These are life choices, and life is difficult!
Firstly, don’t think about the pro career so much -- focus on the college career. A very small percentage of college players will manage to turn pro, but college scholarships are lucrative in their own right, and school is expensive. Take things one step at a time.
Before eliminating any other sports, be as certain as possible that you have what it takes to make it in college. Once you give up a sport, it is very difficult to go back and be successful.
Next, take an honest look at your skills and your body type. At the age of 17, it can be difficult to tell how big or strong you’re going to be, or even what your interests will be in two or three years’ time. But these are key issues. Football players are getting bigger and stronger, and basketball players are getting taller. So your build may dictate your best option. If you’re an average-sized athlete, your opportunities may be greater in baseball, track or soccer.
Bear in mind that football is the cash cow at college -- it generates the revenue that pays for all the other sports. So the odds of getting a scholarship are greater simply because there are more of them available. But football is also a collision sport and carries the greatest risk of injury. Everyone in college football has seen people go through career-ending injuries before they graduate. Other sports, like baseball, don’t carry that level of risk.
Finally, if you’re going to go for a college scholarship, remember that it can be a very stressful process -- the scouts, the college selection and so on. There are many people out there trying to make money off of young men’s dreams and the dreams of their parents. Be sure to get good information and advice.