Friday, October 9, 2009

Today's Random Thoughts

-Did you know that half of pro football players and 21% of pro basketball players have college degrees?  I assume that baseball and hockey are lower due to the high number of people drafted out of high school in the former and the high number of people playing in junior leagues in the latter.  Perhaps more striking is that 60% of pro basketball players are broke within 5 years of retiring -- and the number might be even higher for pro football players.  So if you have any kids in your class who refuse to try in school b/c they're going to be a rich and famous pro athlete, you might want to let them know that that's even less likely than they might think.

-Some completely unsurprising (but still important) statistics regarding education and crime.  16 to 24 year-olds that drop out of high school are 47 times more likely to be incarcerated at any given moment than are those who have completed a 4 year college degree.  Of course, even the most enthusiastic education advocate will understand that this is at least as much due to who drops out and who completes college as it is to how much more education helps.

-I really wish that charter school advocates would stop claiming that the recent report proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that charter schools are the best invention since sliced bread.  The report provides important evidence, but it still leaves a number of unanswered questions (not to mention that it only covers one city).

-Keep your eyes open for a special piece on Sunday that answers the question "should we educate poor kids differently" from another angle.


Roger Sweeny said...

This just in. Pro basketball players are 47 times as likely to be over 6' 4" as people who never played basketball. Of course, even the most enthusiastic basketball advocate will understand that this is at least as much due to who succeeds and doesn't succeed in professional basketball as it is to how much basketball helps makes you taller.

(Corey, I'm not at all sure that "even the most enthusiastic education advocate will understand that this is at least as much due to who drops out and who completes college as it is to how much more education helps." Many educational advocates certainly act like they don't understand it when it comes to the similar argument about why college graduates make so much more money than high school drop-outs.)

Anonymous said...

Charter advocates aren't claiming that at all; that's quite a caricature of that op-ed, which makes the fair point that some of the charter school enemies are quick to pounce on any negative evidence and quick to dismiss any positive evidence.

Robert Pondiscio said...

I think the higher rate of NBA and NFL players with college degrees has a logical explanation. Baseball and hockey have professional minor leagues where newly drafted players hone their skills. College teams function as the de facto minors in basketball and football. Thus players hoping for pro careers have an incentive to stay in school, since they have no way of coming to teams attention outside of colleges. When they're done with school, they're pretty much done with their sport.

There may also be sample size issues here. I don't know about hockey, but baseball's draft is enormous. Well over a thousand players are chosen, a very small percentage of whom ever see action in a single major league game. The NBA and NFL drafts are small by comparison, and most players chosen (especially in the NBA) do end up playing for the club that picks them. Thus, unlike baseball, where teams can risk a 47th round draft pick on a promising junior college or high school player who then has an incentive to play minor league ball, football and basketball tend to pick college seniors who have been developed on the college's dime.

Robert Pondiscio said...

Corey, now that you've got me thinking about this, here's my question: If you compare graduation rates by athletic participation in Division I schools, which sports tend to graduate the highest percentage of program participants? My guy told me it would be women's sports in general and a sport with little professional opportunity, such as rowing. A quick Google search showed this from an ESPN article:

"The most successful men's sports in the percentage of athletes graduating were fencing, gymnastics and lacrosse, each at 88 percent but representing far fewer participants than the major sports. Likewise, water polo was at 85 percent, followed by ice hockey at 84 percent and swimming and tennis, both at 82 percent.

"For the women, 95 percent of the skiers graduated, followed by gymnastics and lacrosse at 94 percent, fencing at 93 percent and swimming at 91 percent.

"Women's basketball dropped from 82 percent to 81 percent but was still significantly higher than the success rate for men.

Corey Bunje Bower said...

RP: Yes, I agree with your assessment for the reasons behind the stats. I think the more important stat would be what percentage of those players would have a college education if athletic scholarships didn't exist.

For the college sports with the highest graduation rates, I'd suggest sports dominated by higher-income students and/or featured more frequently at more elite colleges and universities. I was going to guess fencing before you listed it, and the other sports fit as well. You don't see many inner-city kids doing gymnastics, lacrosse, water polo, ice hockey, swimming, tennis, or skiing. I'd think golf would be up there somewhere as well.