10,000 men play varsity baseball each year in American colleges.
1,000 men play professional baseball in the majors.
There is obvious great disparity in the numbers here and a proper analysis would require some maths skills far beyond Miss Mussel’s ability at this late hour.
Let’s suspend reality for a moment and imagine that MLB turns over its players in their entirity on an annual basis. If we assume that 1/4 of the players graduate each year, then it appears that colleges produce 2 1/2 times the number of players required to replenish the stock.
This figure will skyrocket when more rigourous analysis by real statisticians is done and factors like competition from high school graduates, foreign players and Iron Man Cal Ripken Jr et al. are taken into consideration.
Miss Mussel’s current state of semi-lucidity means that she is able to make wild estimates without feeling the need to back them up with hard facts. The freedom is dizzying but at this present moment, it would seem that an estimate of 100 times overproduction is not out of order. That would leave a generous 25 college players per year hitting the big time, a mere one percent of the original 2,500.
As always, there are direct parallels to the art music world. Miss Mussel once read somewhere that Northwestern graduates 100 violinists a year and was left wondering if there is any point in producing musicians in industrial quantities?
Does a student’s choice (and their parents’ chequebook) take priority or should an institution bear some of the responsibility by restricting admittance more than it does already to increase the odds that its graduates will achieve employment in their field?*
Discouraging someone from playing college baseball on the basis that they are statistically more likely to date a millionaire or write a NY Times bestseller than proceed the major leagues seems cruel. After all, it is only a game; a temporary indulgence.
Is music any different?
Miss Mussel’s inner crusader is quite predictably shouting a hearty Y-E-S and rummaging in its chain mail for a well-worn speech about withering souls and crumbling foundations of the societal variety overlaid with apocalyptic references announcing the beginning of the end of a world worth inhabiting.
But really….is it any different?
*By “in their field” Miss Mussel means performers making a living performing and theorists managing to snag a university teaching post.