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Football season is here
Boyum Phil
Phil Boyum
    It's football season again.
    We've already had an exciting start to the season with two of our local high school teams winning big and the Southern Conference's own Appalacian State (Go Eagles!) upsetting perennial powerhouse Michigan, in the "Big House" no less.
    Personally, I am a huge college football fan. Pageantry and passion. Face painting and foam fingers. Mascots and push-ups.  Traditions that make college football so great to watch.
    There is just no intensity like it in the pro ranks.
    Truth be told, my desk is in the Herald nook that includes the sport editors and staff. As such, I am closer to inside football information than I have ever been before. It seems that we banter back and forth daily about some football issue and I'm enjoying it quite a bit.
    But as much as I love college football, I feel the need to address the thousands of high schoolers, especially freshman, who are hoping to play beyond their high school years.
    All I can say is: don't count on it.
    I'm in no way suggesting that individual players should give up their dream of playing either college football or pro, nor should they slack on their work ethic while they are out on the field. You should be giving it 100 percent every day, every play — in the game and at practice.
    But I am asking you to be realistic. The odds are incredibly small that you will be successful much beyond your high school career.
    Let's look at some statistics.
    According to the NCAA's report, "Estimated Probability of Competing Beyond the High School Interscholastic Level," there are approximately 1.5 million high school football players. Divide that by 3.5, since some high schools have only 10th through 12th grade, and there's about 430,000 graduating seniors playing high school football right now.
    With only 22,820 football scholarships available in Division I—A, I—AA and II, this means only about 5.3 percent of high school players will receive a scholarship to any level of college.
    In the NFL, there are only 1696 final roster spots at any given time. According to the study, this means only about 1.8 percent of college football players will make it to the pros.
    Combine the two probabilities and only about .009 percent make it to the pros from high school. That's about 1 in 1100.
    That's if you don't get hurt.
    So, you must have a fall back position.
    In football, to be a quality team, your punting game must be good.
    So, you must have the punting game ready in your life.
    I'm not suggesting that you need to head off to college or that everyone needs college (I'm sure your teachers will write in about that). In fact, in recent testimony before the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, Lawrence Mishel, President of the Economic Policy Institute said that occupations requiring a college degree or more will only account for about 28.8 percent of occupations by 2014 and that number will only nominally increase.
    He also said, at the current college graduation rate, which is about 30 percent of the native population, "we'll have a ready supply of college graduates to fill these jobs."
    In the same speech, he said the number of jobs that require a high school diploma or less is at about 42 percent and that number is expected to continue dropping about 1 percent a year. These are also the lowest paying jobs.
    So, while it is not imperative that you earn a college degree, it is imperative that you obtain, at the very minimum, your high school diploma. You'll need it if you want a life beyond high school.
    First, a diploma puts you ahead of the 44 percent of high schoolers in Georgia who drop-out.  Couple that with a little bit of college or some technical training and jobs that were out of reach before are attainable. As a result, you're in the top 50 percent of wage earners.
    To put this in football terms, high school drop outs are on the scout team. High school grads occupy the 3rd string. Those students who go on to get additional training, a technical degree or a college diploma will be the ones playing.
    Does this mean that without one of those sheepskins, there is no chance for success or riches? Not in this country. There is always room for that exceptional walk-on who eventually catches the winning pass or makes the big tackle for a loss.
    But almost always, the first stringers make the biggest impact. True in football, true in business and true in life.
    I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Have some interests outside of football and keep up your education. While it's great to have fond memories of high school ball, only a select few can count on football to support themselves and their family in the future.
    To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, don't let the glory days of high school be the glory days of your life. There's a long way to go yet.

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