“Nearly eight million kids played high-school sports last year, the highest number ever,” Wolverton states. “But just 170,000 athletes — about 2 percent of those who compete in high school — receive a sports scholarship, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Many colleges award millions of dollars in athletic aid, touting individual scholarships worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the vast majority of athletes get nowhere near that much.”
In other words, spending a plethora of dollars to pursue an athletic scholarship for your child is an idiotic investment strategy, roughly equivalent to dumping truckloads of gold down Mount Vesuvius on the offhand chance that the Roman god of volcanoes both exists and will be persuaded to respond to your abundant offering with a modest 401 (k). Yet many parents still choose to spend $70,000 trying to nab a $7,000 scholarship to a school that’s 70 percent more expensive than the affordable state university their kid could otherwise attend. Why?
Since most of us don’t know more than a few people who’ve received athletic scholarships, I don’t think the answer is ignorance of the odds as much as it is idolatry of the heart. When their children display notable athletic talent, some parents become so consumed with the idea of a potential scholarship that they begin pursing it in an almost cult-like fashion, refusing to doubt the Almighty Scholarship (read: calculate the odds of getting one), giving money and time they don’t really have to purse the Scholarship’s favor, and forsaking every rival activity, be it church, music lessons, or a calm and quiet family dinner, in order to keep the Scholarship front and center in their lives.
This desire to throw away everything meaningful to idolize nothing substantial is a desire that lurks in all hearts.