The Sports Archives – Dangers and Hazards that can shut down Golf

Interested in getting involved in golf? Maybe you already play recreationally and want to take your skills to the next level. Golf can easily be described as one of the more laid-back, relaxing sports, but in actuality, it is rife with stress, tension, and also great reward. Like many other sporting activities, what you see is not necessarily what you get; a lot more goes into golf than just the sendoff swing – and the swing is a difficult technique to master by itself! Golf is a game of strategy, planning, and level-headedness, and even the greatest players may find themselves seriously afflicted by some of the dangers and hazards on the field of play. Here are a few things to watch out for if/when you find yourself in another game of golf…



Sand is clumped, jagged, and unstable. It is very easy for a ball to become ensnared in a bunker, and equally difficult for it to be removed. It is probably best to just aim well and play it safe than take a risky shot!

Field Hazards: If the sport of golf could be boiled down to two components, it would be the player’s swing and the course the ball must traverse to reach the hole. No golf course is simple in construction, and much planning and analysis goes into creating the ideal field of play. Most field hazards distributed throughout a game of golf are implemented by choice – they are manmade, and added to keep play interesting and competitively restrictive. The two most common forms of field hazards are water traps and bunkers. Water traps, as the name implies, are manmade or natural bodies of water around which the golf course has been constructed. They pose an obvious threat to golf balls and practically guarantee (should the ball become ensnared) that players will suffer a penalty stroke in retrieving it. Bunkers, also known plainly as sand traps, are small, manmade valleys in a golf course filled with sand. While at face value, sand may not seem quite as halting as water, the player’s momentum should the golf ball land in a bunker is nonetheless disturbed. The player has an opportunity of hitting the ball out of a bunker without suffering the penalty stroke in moving it, but they may not practice their swing before hitting the golf ball out of a trap. If the player is not careful and concise, they may lose several swings over trying to remove the golf ball from a bunker.


This course features 2 sand traps and a partitioning water hazard. Yikes!


Forget about how different snow would make a game of gold; can you imagine trying to find a standard golf ball when all of the ground is white?!


Weather: Course traps are the most blatant threat to a golfer’s game, but many more dangers can potentially populate the field – dangers which are more sporadic and play-influencing than others. For sports like baseball and football, weather conditions like rain, strong winds, and even hail can complicate and shut down gameplay. Given that golf is much more intricate and delicate than other sports, the influence of the weather is compounded. The golf course might as well be an entirely different playing field in the rain; the wet ground completely changes traction and movement for the golf ball, and the dense, wet air can constrict even the most elegant swings. Golf is so delicate, even dry air temperature can have a major influence on playability and approaches players must take – colder air is slightly denser, and as such, the ball will have a tendency to lose a little bit of the flight it would gain from a similar swing on a warmer day. Despite how unfavorable (apart from a balmy, dry day with the sun shining) the weather can be, there are a few beneficial aspects to certain weather conditions; rain will indeed wet the ground, but this also leads to wet bunkers. Sand that is dampened by water will actually clump up and make it easier to hit the ball out of such traps. Additionally, while the coarser terrain on the field will become slick as the result of the rain, the “greens” that surround the hole at the other end of the golf course will not. Putting shots will need an extra bit of force behind them, and the ball will not curve nearly as much, which could make longer putts easier. Like with any outdoor sport, lightning storms are very dangerous, especially for lone players swinging with metallic golf clubs in the midst of an open field. Play it safe and don’t risk electrocution!


It may not seem like such a big deal, but the temperature and climate in which a golfer plays can seriously affect their performance. Identical shots taken in 2 different air temperatures start off pretty much the same, but the amount of flight the golf ball will experience differs dramatically later on!

            The threats on a golf course certainly abound, but this should never discourage an enthusiastic beginner or recreational veteran! Like with any sport, a good golf player is built by perseverance, an enduring spirit, and lots of practice. Approaching hazards in golf is all about strategy, logic, quick thinking, and taking the best shot possible. As for bad weather…maybe staying indoors and waiting for a clearer day isn’t such a bad idea!

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The Sports Archives – Preview Of The FEI European Championships Aachen 2015

horseback riding

From the 11th through to the 23rd of August, around 450,000 people are expected to visit Aachen, Germany, for the 2015 Fédération Equestre Internationale European Championships. With five main events on show, 2015 looks set to be a phenomenal year.

The best horses and their riders will be fighting it out for the coveted medals across the 13 days and there are sure to be plenty of thrills and spills to keep the audience entertained and on the edge of their seats.

Who will emerge victorious and take the gold this year? Britain will be hoping for victory from Charlotte Dujardin, who is defending her European title, but German riders Isabell Werth, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Kristina Bröring-Sprehe will be hoping for some inspiration from the home crowd.

A Grand Return

This is not the first time that Aachen has played host to the equine elite. Back in 1958, the European Show Jumping Championships were held here, only the second in what has proved to be a long running series.

Things have changed somewhat since the early days, however, and the huge crowd are now treated to a spectacle that involves five equestrian disciplines as opposed to the singular events of yesteryear.

Aachen is steeped in equestrian history and many regard it as one of the finest showgrounds for the sport across the world. This has been further enhanced by the erection of an entirely new stand in the Deutsche Bank Stadium, built specifically for the 2015 event.

The Opening Ceremony

The stage is set for the 11th August 2015, where those lucky enough to have a ticket will be able to witness the spectacle of the history of Aachen-Laurensberger-Rennverein acted out before them. Some of the worlds most proficient riders will be on hand to delight the crowd with a show that will provide unforgettable moments as they re-enact famous moments from the organisations long history.

The Disciplines

The disciplines on show here this year go far beyond the usual show jumping and dressage. With the addition of reining, driving and vaulting, this year’s event looks set to be the highlight of the equestrian calendar.

Of course, the two main events will still be the show jumping and the dressage, but the addition of three further disciplines will no doubt add to the enjoyment of the crowd.


Tickets are still available via the Aachen 2015 website. However, as one would imagine, these are selling fast. A maximum of 6 tickets per day, per customer are available, so the opportunity for a fabulous family day out is there should you wish to enjoy it with your loved ones.

Getting There

International travel is made easy by the fantastic links to and from the championships. The A4 motorway is the most direct route by car, either through Germany itself or if you are entering the country via the Netherlands.

Public transport serves the area well too, with both bus and train coverage ensuring a smooth journey for all who choose to use these modes of transport.

For those travelling from abroad, European travel insurance is strongly recommended. Being prepared for any eventuality will allow you to fully enjoy your stay in this fabulous part of Germany.

Featured images:

Roxanne Seabourne is the Marketing Executive for Avanti Travelcare, who specialise in travel insurance for those with pre-existing medical conditions, and are one of very few that have no upper age limit on their policies.

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The Sports Archives – How To Get Into Sailing

sailing pixabay

It’s diverse, it’s won Team GB plenty of Olympic medals in the past, and it’s a sport that’s enjoyed by competitors and leisure users alike. We’re talking about sailing, a sport that’s open to all, and one that is fairly easy and affordable to get started in, thanks in part to the wealth of sailing clubs, courses, and holidays run throughout the UK and beyond.

What’s available?

Sailing opportunities available often include windsurfing, one of the fastest forms of sailing, where you can reach up to and over 50 mph, along with yachting and dinghy sailing. Activities and courses may vary depending on the club facilities and the location/conditions, but there are plenty of choices, and you don’t always have to be a member of a sailing club to join in.

Who can sail?

The best answer is almost everyone. Many sailing clubs impose a lower age limit of 8 years old, but apart from that you don’t have to be fit or able-bodied to have a go. There are different types of boats and sailing to suit all. Your local club may have activities available to suit disabilities, and youth sailors can typically learn the basics in a dinghy, and perhaps progress to a youth wind surfing course. Check out details of your local sailing courses and you may well find equipment is included, along with instruction, and you may get fed as well, so it’s often an affordable way to get involved.

How Can I Take To The Water?

Look out for novice or complete beginner courses that require no experience. These could be taster courses over a weekend which will teach you the basics of sailing, and introduce you to what sailing schools are all about, or for something a little more involved, try a competent crew option. Typically over 5 days, these courses cover day and night sailing, knots and rope work, sail handling and more. If you choose to progress further into sailing, some courses will give you the nautical miles or skills needed for more advanced qualifications.

Another option is to book onto a sailing cruise. This is a great way to get friends and family involved, and you can all socialise, work and learn together and enjoy the experience of cruising the open waters and seeing some of the wildlife and coastal scenery across the UK. Experienced skippers will lead every cruise, but there’s plenty of chances to get involved if you want to learn more about navigation, setting sail, passage planning, or other aspects of cruising the waters.

Where To Find Out More?

If you’re not sure if your local area has a sailing club, then check out the Royal Yachting Association or their Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish equivalent. There you will find a directory of sailing clubs running RYA approved courses, details of programmes such as RYA Push The Boat Out, and RYA Sailability which promotes disability sailing, and ONBOARD which focuses on windsurfing and sailing for young people.

You could also visit your local travel agent or specialist operator and find out options available for cruising and sailing adventure breaks, or check out pages such as Get Inspired on the BBC Sport page. Combine all these resources with books, videos, blogs, maybe even a trip to a sailing regatta or club open day and you’ll have every chance to find out about all the benefits of sailing, and how to get involved. Maybe you’ll even inspire others to take up the sport.

Featured images:

Simon King runs Broad Reach Sailing, which offers RYA sailing courses on the Solent on the South Coast.

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The Sports Archives – Baseball Science: Batting Power & Precision


Basic anatomy of the standard baseball bat.

Last month, The Sports Archives released an article discussing the intricacies and mechanics of pitching in baseball. Pitching is instrumental in playing this sport, but what about the other end of the stick (literally)? Batting is the yin to pitching’s yang – a complimentary opposite to the game mechanic that kicks off every action in baseball – and said sport can certainly not be played without both. Novice beginners, recreational players and even spectators of baseball are often curious about how batting works – what is the science behind striking the ball with a long pole, and how does experience and practice improve someone’s ability to do that? The resolution to this line of inquiry is a compound answer…

Pacing of the Swing – Perhaps the most basic concept in successful batting is the timing of the swing itself. It may be strange for some to think that the trajectory of the ball is so comprehensively flexible based purely on the timing of a pitch, but this is the truth. Much like pitching, batting is unique on a per-player basis; as such, it is difficult to teach or describe a singular, global method that reinforces how a player should strive to bat. While this means that each individual batter must discover their habits, strengths, and weaknesses alone, they are not entirely without help. Some aspects of batting remain truthful regardless of the person making the swing, and these facts can be very helpful in personally “calibrating” one’s batting technique:

  • If the swing is too late, the ball will make contact with the bat too early in the swing, and the resulting arc with bank too far to the right for right-handed batters (and too far to the left for left-handed batters)
  • If the swing is too early, the ball will make contact with the bat too late in the swing, and the resulting arc will bank too far to the left for right-handed batters (and too far to the right for left-handed batters)
  • Ultimately, batters should focus on just hitting the ball first, but as they develop a personal rhythm for batting, they should refine their technique so the ball starts to gain consistency aligning in the middle of the field when hit.

The sweet spot happens to overlap a variety of factors which make it the ideal impact point. Feedback vibrations are the lowest in its borders, and because it is located near the end of the bat, the force with which a player swings is compounded because of angular force, or “torque.”

The Core Physics – So, where does the speed and power of a stricken ball come from, exactly? Everything that goes into the swinging of the bat for a hit can be traced back to kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is put into the swing via the batter; when the player swings the bat, force is expelled through his motion. When the bat strikes the baseball, a variable portion of the harnessed kinetic energy is transferred to the ball, sending it flying through the air. Any kinetic energy that is not delivered to the ball on hit will reverberate through the bat, creating excess vibration. Experienced baseball players often refer to a “sweet spot” in hitting – a point on the bat where striking the ball is ideal to maximize performance. Scientifically speaking, this is the location on the bat where the maximum possible kinetic energy will transfer to the ball. Simultaneously, hand sting – the painful effect of the bat vibrating on human hands – will be minimized, because most kinetic energy will have left the bat.



The differences in each material of bat are made clearer here. It should be noted that even though a wood composite bat is shown here, any type of bat could be considered to be made composite, provided it is constructed from more than one primary material.

Baseball Bat Materials – The size of baseball bats has varied in the past, and the materials composing them vary to this day. Historically, baseball bats could weigh up to 3 pounds, though this has slowly reduced over time. Today, baseball regulations control the precise size and weight of bats respective to each division of competitive play. The science of materials composing a baseball bat becomes more intricate as a researcher goes deeper – the 3 major manufacturing categories for baseball bats, however, are wood, aluminum, or composite material. The first two are fairly self-explanatory; wooden bats are fashioned from a type of wood (and varying types of wood can give individual bats certain characteristics) and aluminum bats are made of the signature lightweight metal. Composite bats are made from a complex carbon fiber polymer, which gives the bat distinct attributes that make it better or worse than the other two types of bat. Material plays a fairly significant role in the structure and performance of a baseball bat, but none is truly more advantageous or disadvantageous than another. Aluminum bats do not risk splintering like woodenbats, but may cause more hand sting due to the resonance of the ball impacting on the bat; composite bats have superior durability and strength compared to the other two types of bat but are not ideal in cold temperature, and so on…


The specifics of how each type of wood changes a bat’s playstyle become apparent when different sub-types of material are examined.

These are the basics of the science behind batting in baseball. The details of this process only get more intricate with greater investigation, but the fundamentals boil down to materials, physics, and timing!

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The Sports Archives – 10 American Football Vocabulary Lessons for New Fans


While baseball may forever remain the U.S.A.’s pastime, American Football has achieved tantamount popularity with the nation as its #1 most popular Major-league sporting activity. So get ready to join the club of football fanatics!

Perhaps you were at a friend’s house one time and caught a glimpse of good-old American Football on the television, or maybe you’ve followed football for quite a long time, but still aren’t entirely familiar with the intricacies of the game. While it is certainly one of the easier sports to comprehend both as a spectator and as a player, football still possesses the precise, detailed complexity that defines any great sporting activity. What American Football ultimately boils down to is the skill and strategy of each team, and how they will, for a select period of time, be in charge of either moving the football itself to the end zone or preventing the team carrying it from encroaching. Everything else that composes the game is just an addition to play that molds and shapes what the players will do next. Here are 10 of the more vital terms and policies employed in a football game when all of the action happens:

Down – Downs are perhaps the most crucial resource in a game of football, and signify “turns” in which the offense may move the football forward along the field. Once the offensive team has possession of the ball, the players will position themselves along a yard line that coincides with the football in the middle of the field. The offensive team effectively has four “chances” – four downs – at a time to move the ball 10 yards forward. The defensive team must prevent the ball from moving towards the goal by stopping each play that the offensive team executes. Only one play can be executed per down. If the offensive team manages to move the ball 10 yards, the down system is reset and the offense may continue with a 1st down. If the defensive team is successful and all four downs elapse without the ball moving 10 yards, the teams switch and the defense team has a chance at playing offense.

Offense – Shorthand/slang for the team in possession of the football.

Defense – Shorthand/slang for the team defending.


The Line of Scrimmage is the blue line projected on the field below. This line, the yellow line, and the text palette “3rd & 5″ are applied digitally to the video feed and are seen in most televised football games. Of course, in person, none of this is visible, but spectators watching on TV can keep up as well as (if not, better) any fan present in the stadium.

Line of Scrimmage – The Line of Scrimmage is an invisible line that runs the width of a football field, and signifies where the football is on the field. The line separates the offense and defense teams from each other up until the offense initiates a play.

 Possession/Interception – Possession is another way of defining which team has control of the ball (and, by extension, conducting the offensive). Generally, the downs dictate when each team plays offense and defense, respectively. However, if a member of the defensive team manages to legally (without penalty) acquire the ball while a play is in effect, the teams automatically switch out and the previously-defensive team now has possession. This is known as interception.

Fumble – If a player is in control of the football and loses/drops it before being tackled or halted, it is known as a fumble. Fumbles are slightly more common in passes, but can happen at any point in time. Typically, when a player is tackled, the play concludes with the ball falling at the respective yard line, but in a fumble, the football is still considered a “live ball,” and can be recovered by either time. Like with interception, it is typically possible for the defensive team to assume possession of the ball if they recover it from a fumble.

Blitz – Blitzing is a tactic often utilized by the defense to confuse the offensive team and disrupt a play. Normally, the defensive team tries to balance its players between pressuring the quarterback and blocking potential pass candidates. In contrast to this, a blitz is generally defined as “a defensive rush executed by more than 4 defensive players.” Timed properly in a game, a blitz can make all the difference, but it is still a risky maneuver – the more defenders that are sent after the quarterback at the start of the play, the less remain to prevent a successful catch if the ball gets away.


This is the weighted, yellow penalty flag referees throw out during play. Even if you missed the penalty happen, if you see this on the field, you’ll know that someone is about to get hosed!

Flag/Penalty – Penalties are issued in football by a referee, usually by way of a weighted, yellow flag that is thrown onto the field. The plethora of infractions in football is notably diverse, but the penalties for such are really not. Most penalties assigned by referees for infractions consist of a loss in yardage – forcing the offense or defense to acquire or concede what is considered a fair distance towards either goal. It is possible, however unlikely, to gain an automatic first down on yard penalties alone.

Roughing/Holding – Football is a contact sport; as such, there is going to be a lot of roughness from both sides, but the aggression does not go unchecked. Roughing is a penalty infraction categorized as the illegal tackling of a player. Tackling is usually legal only on the player in possession of the football. As such, “roughing the ____” is an expression that describes an accidental tackle of a player, be it the kicker, the passer (after a pass), and so on. Holding also involves physical contact, and is categorized as when a player physically handles another player that is not in possession of the ball. It can get uncomfortable dancing around opponents at times, but shoving, tackling, and overtaking receivers or defenders is usually not allowed (unless they have possession, of course).

Scoring – Scoring can be perplexing in football – where do all those points come from? It   is simpler than it seems, really. A touchdown results in the most points, and is simply when an offensive player makes it to the end zone with the ball in hand. A standard touchdown is 6 points, with an optional 7th and/or 8th granted by a “free kick” or, if the offensive team manages to execute another touchdown from short range in one play, respectively. If the team is close to the end zone but short on downs, they may opt to “punt” the ball – kick it through the goal post in the end zone. This is a “field goal” and is worth 3 points if it connects.

Now you know most of the fundamentals needed to grasp football. Get out there and prepare for football season this autumn!

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The Sports Archives – How To Save Air When Scuba Diving

Every scuba diver needs to do everything they can to conserve air. Here are some ways to do it:

At The Start Of A Trip

  1. Stop leaks! Every stream of bubbles, no matter how minor, adds up over the period of your dive leading to a substantial, and unnecessary, loss. It can also be a sign of trouble later, so fix it as soon as possible. A worn or dried out O-ring, for instance, should be replaced immediately.
  2. A poorly fitting mask is particularly wasteful; besides the leak itself you have to continually blow the water out from your mask as well. And it raises your stress level, which in turn increases your breathing rate, leading to further unnecessary loss of air. A 3 in 1 loss.
  3. Don’t over-weigh yourself. Too much lead requires more air in your buoyancy compensator to neutralise your weight. This makes it larger, thus requiring more effort to push it through the water, and also results in you constantly finning yourself up to counteract the extra weight. Distribute the lead to give you a naturally horizontal position while swimming. This keeps your body following the “hole” made by your front half, rather than pushing aside more water.
  4. And for the same reason, avoid carrying too much gear.
  5. Wear enough insulation to keep warm. When you are cold, you use up energy just keeping warm, which increases your oxygen intake.

In the water

  1. Once in the water, swim more slowly and evenly to extend your dive time. Jerky movements both cause more rapid breathing, and results in more resistance from the water, necessitating greater effort (and therefore breathing) on your part. Swimming twice as energetically uses up air at far more than twice the rate.
  2. Stay shallow where possible, for instance while just getting to the location where you actually want to go deep. A single breath at two atmospheres uses up twice as much air from your tank as the same breath at the surface.
  3. Practice slower, more even, breathing – maybe six seconds to inhale, and six or seven more on the exhale. And pausing just before exhaling keeps the air in your lungs a fraction longer, allowing your lungs to extract a little more oxygen. It isn’t the point we naturally pause at on dry land, but it is good practice in the water. This is something you can practice in the swimming pool at any time.
  4. Use short fin kicks; they are more efficient.
  5. Keep out of strong head currents that require more effort to swim against.

To judge how well you are doing, compare your air usage with others on the same dive. Many of these techniques can be practiced before leaving home. If you need training it will usually be cheaper to obtain that at home as well.

Finally, the more you dive on a regular basis, the more experienced you will become, and that will make you relax more and breathe less. Enjoying your sport more actually helps you alleviate the problem of air loss.

Featured images:

Jeffrey Glenn is the founder of Go Pro Asia, one of Thailand’s most sort after professional dive training resorts. Jeffrey is a PADI Course Director and Technical Diving Instructor Trainer and has over 20 years’ experience in the dive industry

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The Sports Archives – The Road from College-Athlete to Professional

The relationship between an athletic celebrity and sport enthusiasts is practically identical to that of a movie star and his/her fans. Playing in a competitive field of sport or as a player on a major-league team uplifts a professional athlete in the eyes of the public – some are even so renowned as to receive “godlike”–quality status and praise from their followers. Yet, no matter how talented celebrity athletes or even actors may be—no matter how elevated of a status they may achieve—they are all still human. As such, there was a time (typically in the earlier years of life and education) that every famous individual was fresh to their field, reaching for their dreams, and quite unaware as to just how renowned they would go on to become. The subtle transition from avid aficionado to elite competitor in the realm of sports prompts the enduring question: “How exactly do rising athletes become professionals?” And, by extension, “What path does a high school or college athlete take to achieve fame?”


Is it hard to believe that, in an alternate universe, Tom Brady could be a catcher for Major-League Baseball?

The quest to become a professional athlete begins at an early age for most people. Lebron James, one of the most renowned NBA celebrity athletes of the day, was first introduced to basketball at 9 years of age, and has not stopped playing since. Coupled with his natural talent for the sport, James’s commitment to basketball has allowed him to become one of the most skilled professional basketball players in the United States, but anything less than that likely would have seen his career halted before it even began. For some individuals, the dedication to becoming a professional athlete begins even earlier; this was the case with NFL All-Star quarterback Tom Brady, who’s first encounter with the realm of sports came via football at the astonishing age of 4. Brady played both baseball and football actively through his childhood and high school years, and even came close to MLB via the 1995 draft. Football had decidedly taken precedent in his life, however. Brady had a college football career during his time with the University of Michigan before being drafted by the New England Patriots. 33 years after he first picked up football, he still hasn’t put it down or even set it aside for a moment. As anyone can see, for a professional athlete to be good or even great at the sport they play, it is not enough to simply be talented or opportunistic; their lives must be centered around a career in sports for decades — supposing that they first make it to the top, that is.


Lebron James as a child. Little did anyone suspect that his career as a professional athlete would begin right here…

What if someone truly does have what it takes to become a superstar athlete? What should he/she do to improve the chances of hitting the big leagues? The answer is simple – long hours of vigorous training and stern, unwavering commitment. A blazing passion burns in everyone over something…but only those whose fire is fueled by a career in sports will make it. Beyond college sports, the method by which an individual player is selected for “the Majors” varies by career. Generally, however, the selection process consists of a draft in which teams select new players to fill empty spots on a roster. This can be difficult and quite unforgiving, considering that the stakes for getting selected to play professionally are extremely high. As is the case on Broadway in New York City, there are plenty of willing actors and performers that are desperate for a job, but only a select number of jobs to be filled, and those responsible for filling them only take the best. “You have to have what it takes,” as they say, and this statement holds true for professional sports as well. Fortunately, unions like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (the NCAA) are run by members dedicated to helping rising athletes get where they need to be. For college sports, players trying to get selected to play on major-league teams in the future will have to focus on getting attention in addition to playing superbly, lest they “blend in with the crowd.”


The road from rising High School athlete all the way up to Professional is a decisive path, but unfortunately, the odds are not promising at all.

The commitment to becoming a superstar athlete is not more forgiving than the promise many children made to become astronauts when they grow up. Training to become a professional alone absolutely must begin at a very early age. Genetic predisposition – a person’s unique anatomy and biological history – will, sadly, keep the dream forever out of reach for some people. Likewise, talented individuals might find the path to becoming a professional athlete slightly easier – but only slightly. Only about 5.6% of baseball players and 5.8% of football players in high school will go on to play football at the college level. Then, from the college level, football athletes only have about a 2% chance of becoming professionals, and all other major sports follow this depressingly low trend; the singular exception to this is college baseball athletes, 10.5% of which have a promising chance of joining a Major-League Baseball team in the future. This is likely due to the impressively-organized MLB draft that goes out annually to recruit college talent around the United States.

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