Want an athletic scholarship? Play one of these sports

Iman Sheikh

U.S. college sports are big business. According to The Atlantic, the highest-paid public employee in 41 states is not a professor, neurosurgeon, or politician, but a college football or basketball coach. Michigan Wolverines’ coach Jim Harbaugh was reportedly paid $9 million in 2016.

When it comes to U.S. college recruiting, not all sports are equal. The game you play and your gender will determine your odds at winning an athletic scholarship.

Sports at U.S. colleges and universities are divided into proficiency-based levels of play. The National college Athletics Association (NCAA) and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) function in this order:

NCAA Division 1: The cream of the crop. This is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics, and also has the most financial resources and best sports facilities. Across the U.S., 351 college and universities classify as Division 1. Among them are UCLA, Yale, Princeton, Northwestern, Harvard, Vanderbilt, UT Austin and Stanford. This tier generally restricts the number of foreign student-athletes a team can have on its roster and also imposes the highest academic standards of all divisions.

NCAA Division II: Division II student-athletes may be offered partial scholarships, and the restrictions on foreign players are laxer. Division II institutions don’t devote the same financial resources to their athletics programs or choose not to place such a heavy financial emphasis on them.  There are 306 American and Canadian colleges and universities classified as Division II, among them Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Simon Fraser and Bentley.

NAIA: This is similar to NCAA Division II in terms of size of the school and also the level of sports, and in that a large scholarship would not usually be offered to a foreign new student-athlete outside the U.S. However, as playing time increases, scholarship money would normally increase proportionately. There are 246 member colleges, including Canada’s University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria.

Click through the slideshow for the sports with the highest chances of an athletic scholarship for men and women according to MarketWatch. Spoiler: the odds are better for women.

 

 

The best odds of getting an athletic scholarship for men

No. 10: Soccer
Number of high school athletes: 417,419
Athletic scholarships: 6,152
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 68:1
(Creative Commons/Selma Bears)

The best odds of getting an athletic scholarship for men

No. 9: Baseball
Number of high school athletes: 482,629
Athletic scholarships: 8,062
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 60:1
(Steven Pisano/Creative Commons)

The best odds of getting an athletic scholarship for men

No. 8: Basketball
Number of high school athletes: 541,054
Athletic scholarships: 9,504
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 57:1
(Chip Griffin/Creative Commons)

The best odds of getting an athletic scholarship for men

No. 7: Rifle
Number of high school athletes: 2,668
Athletic scholarships: 47
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 57:1
(USAG- Humphreys/Creative Commons)

The best odds of getting an athletic scholarship for men

No. 6: Skiing — Alpine
Number of high school athletes: 5,593
Athletic scholarships: 107
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 52:1
(Ski Leavenworth/Creative Commons)

The best odds of getting an athletic scholarship for men

No. 5: Golf
Number of high school athletes: 152,647
Athletic scholarships: 2,998
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 51:1
(EaglebrookSchool/Creative Commons)

Odds of getting an athletic scholarship for men

No. 4: Football
Number of high school athletes: 1,122,024
Athletic scholarships: 25,918
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 43:1
(EaglebrookSchool/Creative Commons)

The best odds of getting an athletic scholarship for men

No. 3: Ice Hockey
Number of high school athletes: 35,393
Athletic scholarships: 981
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 36:1
(Groton School/Creative Commons)

Odds of getting an athletic scholarship for men

No. 2: Fencing
Number of high school athletes: 2,189
Athletic scholarships: 99
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 22:1
(John Lambert Pearson/Creative Commons)

The best odds of getting an athletic scholarship for men

No. 1: Gymnastics
Number of high school athletes: 1,995
Athletic scholarships: 101
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 20:1
(Michael Radwin/Creative Commons)

Odds of getting an athletic scholarship for women

No. 10: Soccer
Number of high school athletes: 374,564
Athletic scholarships: 9,266
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 40:1
(KG Sand Soccer/Creative Commons)

Odds of getting an athletic scholarship for women

No. 9: Rifle
Number of high school athletes: 1,587
Athletic scholarships: 46
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 35:1
(Mitch Barrie/Creative Commons)

Odds of getting an athletic scholarship for women

No. 8: Skiing
Number of high school athletes: 4,541
Athletic scholarships: 133
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 34:1
(Ski Leavenworth/Creative Commons)

Odds of getting an athletic scholarship for women

No. 7: Gymnastics
Number of high school athletes: 19,231
Athletic scholarships: 810
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 24:1
(Rick McCharles/Creative Commons)

Odds of getting an athletic scholarship for women

No. 6: Golf
Number of high school athletes: 72,172
Athletic scholarships: 3,056
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 24:1
(Tim Evanson/Creative Commons)

Odds of getting an athletic scholarship for women

No. 5: Ice Hockey
Number of high school athletes: 9,150
Athletic scholarships: 612
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 15:1
(Hockey Night in Boston/Creative Commons)

Odds of getting an athletic scholarship for women

No. 4: Fencing
Number of high school athletes: 1,774
Athletic scholarships: 134
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 13:1
(Quinn Dombrowski/Creative Commons)

Odds of getting an athletic scholarship for women

No. 3: Rugby
Number of high school athletes: 322
Athletic scholarships: 36
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 9:1
(K.M. Klemencic/Creative Commons)

Odds of getting an athletic scholarship for women

No. 2: Equestrian
Number of high school athletes: 1,306
Athletic scholarships: 390
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 3:1
(Patrick Doheny/Creative Commons)

Odds of getting an athletic scholarship for women

No. 1: Rowing
Number of high school athletes: 4,242
Athletic scholarships: 2,080
Ratio of athletes to scholarships: 2:1
(OakleyOriginals/Creative Commons)