These percentages contain numerous caveats: the number of participants at the high school level does not include high school age athletes who don't play on a high school team, but compete on club, travel and similar teams. So for sports such as high school football that have a large number of high school participants and a relatively small number of travel teams, these percentages are a pretty good indication of a high school athlete's chances of playing at the college level.
However for sports with numerous travel teams (soccer, basketball, etc.) the numbers become more of a challenge. These factors may result in computed odds for many sports that are artificially high. For example, the chances of a female being able to participate on a college rowing team looks like an absolute lock in that there are more college athletes participating than at the high school level. However the competition to get on a college varsity team is much tougher than indicated above; most high schools don't sponsor rowing teams, and many teenage rowers compete on local clubs that are not reflected in the high school data. Additionally, talented high school athletes who end up not being recruited in their primary sport (say basketball or volleyball) may instead focus on competing in another sport such as rowing. So for many if not most sports, the chances are likely more difficult than presented above.
However in certain other sports, the chances might actually be better than presented above. For example, a high school baseball player may also be a talented multi sport athlete who receives afull scholarship for playing football and opts to forego college baseball. The percentage of multi-sport athletes is significantly higher at the high school level than in college. Additionally, a very talented high school baseball player may elect to forego college entirely and go directly into professional baseball. Other factors may improve the chances as well, including the fact that a significant number of high school athletes simply do not continue on to college.
These chances are based on participating at a college sport at any level - the chances of a high school athlete competing at the NCAA Division I level are much lower than the same athlete's chances of playing at the NCAA Division III or NAIA level - see our page on the chances of playing college sports by divisionfor more information.
Competitive cheer teams are not included in the collegiate participants above, although many advocates of these programs believe that at some point competitive cheer will attain the legal status of a varsity college sport. However, a 2010 federal court decision gave this movement at least a temporary set back in holding that participation in collegiate competitive cheer programs cannot count towards fulfilling a school's compliance with Title IX. Some colleges do sponsor varsity level competitive cheer/dance programs, however we have not currently compiled this data.
Statistics for both High School and College athletes above report participation on school sponsored varsity, JV and freshman teams, and do not reflect club, travel and/or intramural sports teams.