Why We Play

Michael Chambers, Sports Reporter

Money, fame, championships. There are many reasons why people choose to play sports, but not everyone is reaching for the same goals.

According to the NCAA, of the nearly eight million high school athletes participating in sports, only about 495,000 of them will make it to the collegiate level, but this doesn’t shy people away from dreaming of going pro.

Louis Landers is a junior who plays basketball for the varsity team, and said he knew the exact moment he wanted to be a hooper.

“When I was little, I went to my first Mavericks game when they played the Lakers,” Landers said. “Seeing Kobe Bryant go out there and become my idol by the way he plays, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

For some, the love for a sport develops after watching it for the first time, but for others, like junior Nicole Padilla, soccer has always been a big part of her and her family’s life.

“Growing up, my family loved soccer. It would always be on TV at home,” Padilla said. “So they got me playing at a young age, and now I can’t see myself without a pair of cleats and a ball.”

While many athletes’ love for the game is real, some play for more than just fun. Many choose to play sports hoping to make a career of it, in hopes of creating a better life for themselves.

Senior Makiah Moss loves volleyball and hopes to use it to help her reach her career goals.

“I don’t want to be a pro volleyball player. I just play to have fun with my friends,” Moss said. “But I do hope to eventually be a coach, and playing this game definitely can help me get there.”

Many professional athletes are idolized like celebrities, which isn’t surprising considering the amount of time they spend on national television. In 2017, the average NBA player made about $5.15 million and the average baseball player made close to $3.2 million, but which sport creates the best income for players?

Junior Eian Jennings said if he could be a professional athlete for any sport, he would be a  baseball player because of their potential earnings.

“I’d play baseball for sure,” Jennings said. “It’s my favorite sport already, and players make a lot more than any other sport.”

In the NFL and the NBA, every team has a set amount of money they can spend on players. This is known as a salary cap, but in baseball there isn’t one. So teams are willing to spend any amount they can on players. Aaron Rodgers is the highest paid player in the NFL after signing a contract extension worth $134 million over four years. This comes out to an average salary of about $33 million dollars a year. While his contract is worth a lot of money, MLB star and Angels outfielder Mike Trout signed a contract extension of $426 million over 12 years, which is about $36 million dollars a year, and the money is fully guaranteed.

One thing people don’t realize is the impact sports may have on a person’s life, having to work well with a team, treating others with respect, and even staying out of trouble. Playing a sport can not only help you get physically fit, but athletes can learn to develop better eating habits to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Landers said playing sports helped shaped him into the person he is.

“I’m no longer a regular kid. I’m an athlete. I represent not only myself but my team, so I try my best to carry myself well in front of others,” Landers said.

Landers has set goals for himself and has big aspirations for basketball.

“Hopefully I play for the Lakers,” Landers said. “But I don’t want to just make it, I want to be one of the greatest to ever play.”