On Biff and Balance

by Jessica Austin
Biff Loman, like many young and aspiring athletes of today, was promised a bright future as long as he kept up with football. What he didn’t do, and what many high school football players today also struggle with, is making it into the college arena.

Less than 5% of high school football players get the opportunity to play college football, and even if they do, the odds of eventually making it into the NFL are overwhelmingly slim. There are no concrete statistics out there, but a bit of math shows just how small the chance at pro football is. There are 115 colleges and universities with Division I teams each team having about 110 players, that makes more than 12,500 players – double that to consider all the Division II players – divide to get just the seniors, subtract a few due to drop outs, and you’ve got about 3,400 candidates for the NFL draft. Now, I’m not claiming to know how any of that works, but I do know that in the 2013 NFL draft, only 254 picks were made. A little more math and the odds are just over 7% that a college senior playing for a Division I or II team will make it into the NFL.

To put it even further into perspective, this means that 0.35% of all high school football players see their name on the roster of an NFL team. Really, Biff never had a chance.

But Biff Loman’s original problem is one that high school students of any century can likely relate to: a failing math grade. Math was never more than an annoyance for me in high school, but I can imagine that if I’d been any kind of athlete and had the pressure to excel at sports as well as school, I would’ve been doing much worse. The balance that many high school athletes have to strike between their grades and their sport is the downfall of many. Oftentimes, high schools set GPA minimums that athletes can’t fall below without getting put on academic probation and losing their athletic privileges.

Biff’s struggle to succeed in the adult world after high school football stardom was due in part to his father’s unrealistic, delirious expectations for success that run throughout the play, but also due to his failure to balance school and sport.

The moral of this blog post: math is difficult, football is difficult, and balance is everything.