Student athletes bank on rocky sports road to college scholarships – Al Jazeera America

The path for boys is even more difficult, with only 32,000 of 541,000 high school basketball players making a college team.

“A college scholarship is really important to me because my family can’t pay for college,” Redden said. She may be one of the lucky ones, with numerous scouts showing interest in her.

But a scholarships won’t necessarily relieve the parents of the entire college financial burden. The average cost of tuition is just over $31,000 at a private school and about $9,000 for state residents at public colleges, according to the College Board. Meanwhile, the average value of sports scholarships granted to female athletes is only $6,625, according to Scholarship Stats, with most scholarships only partly covering tuition.

Moreover, at many institutions, scholarships are renewed on an annual basis, thus not guaranteeing all four years of education will be covered.

The financial impact on parents, however, begins before the collegiate level. “The AAU season is an expensive endeavor,” said Selena Treat, Redden’s mom. “It’s a bit of a shock after I tally up all of my receipts for a trip.”

Treat’s financial commitment in preparing Redden for collegiate and potentially for professional competition reflects a growing national trend of parents going the extra mile.

Operators in the sports coaching industry have grown at an average annual rate of 1.4 percent over the last five years, to a $6.1 billion industry, according to IBIS World.

There’s an overall change in approach to youth sports over the last two to three decades, warned Dan Gould, the director of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University. “We’ve seen the professionalization of youth sports,” CNBC reported Gould saying. “It used to be a neighborhood, local, informal thing. Now it’s modeled after what you see in professional leagues, with travel teams, more practices and younger kids specializing in just one sport.”

Michael Dabney, the father of Redden’s AAU teammate Olivia Dabney and WNBA star Maya Moore, hints at the pressure he puts on his younger daughter to reach her sister’s achievements. “The ultimate goal, obviously, is getting a scholarship,” he said. “In order to excel, you have to take those two or three hundred jump shots every day.”


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