Here in Canada - and particularly here in Montreal - we love our Hockey. Ice Hockey, that is. Hockey is arguably the fastest, most energetic, most physical professional sport on the planet. With enough moolah in your pockets, you can buy NHL tickets that seat you right up against the glass - less than an inch from the most explosive action in sports. No professional sport in the world can come close to providing the experiencing of watching an NHL game from one of those seats.
Like most professional sports, if you want to play NHL Hockey you need
to be seriously committed from an early age. You’ll need the right
combination of body type, serious skills, unblinking determination - not
to mention parental support - if you are to crack the 23-man roster on
one of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League. So many aspire to
join those ranks, but so few ever make it. Every single teenager who
plays amateur Major Junior Hockey in the USA or Canada shares that
ambition, but in fact less than one in twenty will succeed.
is like that in other major league sports, too. Baseball, Football (aka
Soccer), Football (aka Football), Tennis, Formula One, Golf,
Basketball, Boxing. But the financial rewards for making it to the
pinnacle can be truly staggering. In all of these professional sports,
the top stars earn mind-boggling sums of money. I suppose that’s fair
enough. In all walks of life, those with the greatest skills and
steeliest determination tend to make it furthest up the ladder, whether
you are a businessman, a doctor, a lawyer - or a sportsman. I suppose
that is something we can all accept.
But yesterday, I heard
something in a Ted Talk (it was on the radio so I can’t post a link)
that made me stop and think. In Basketball, as we all know, it pays to
be tall. The shorter you are, the less chance you have of making it to
the NBA. According to Wikipedia, in its entire history, only 24 players
5’ 9” tall (the height of an average American male) have ever made it
to the NBA. Apparently, there are only two such players active today.
Imagine the skill you would need to make it to the NBA as a human being
of only average height. Today, in the NBA, a full 10% of all the
players are seven feet tall or more.
Does just being seven feet
tall trump all the skill in the world? Incredibly, it would appear so.
Today, according to the Ted Talk, of all Americans alive today who are
seven feet tall, an incredible 17% of them are **ALREADY** playing in
the NBA!! And that’s before we take into account those who are too old
(or too young).
Think about that. If you grow up to be seven
feet tall, before we even start to consider any physical skills that you
may or may not possess, you already have a better than one-in-five
chance of being accepted into a professional cadre whose minimum salary
is half a million dollars a year; whose average salary is 5 million
dollars a year; and whose top performers pull in more than 20 million
dollars a year.
I find that surprisingly disturbing.