In 1998, for my Master’s Thesis at San Diego State University, I chose to study the “Decision-Making Factors Governing High School Players’ Choice of a College or Professional Baseball Opportunity.” I wanted to know what factors were most important to high school seniors who were drafted and had to choose between signing or going to school as I had known many players who regretted their choices years after they made them. I revisit my research and discuss my findings with friends and colleagues each year as the First Year Player Draft draws near. Last week, as the Draft was taking place, I decided I would post my entire thesis in an effort to learn more from coaches, parents, and players who have recently been involved in this decision. I’ll be posting a new chapter every few days and will also include pages and pages of subject answers to open-ended questions, which are very interesting and shed lots of light on this process. I’m going to leave out the statistics, surveys, tables, and most appendices, but if you’d like a full electronic copy of my thesis, please just email me and I’ll be happy to send to you.
Warning…a few of these sections can be a bit dry, to say the least, but most of the reading is interesting stuff and I would be glad to discuss my past and current thoughts on the draft process either on the blog or offline. And please keep in mind that these data are 12-13 years old, so some of the dollar amounts need to be taken in context. I would encourage anyone and everyone who would like to offer feedback and stories so we can all learn more from each other. Chapter IV includes the results of my research, which offer some interesting findings that will be discussed in detail in Chapter V.
Click Here for Chapter I, Introduction
Click Here for Chapter II, Review of Literature
Click Here for Chapter III, Methodology
All coaches and scouts met the criterion by fully answering both surveys. Items were retained if 20% or more of the sample deemed them valid and less than 20% deemed them invalid. Using this standard for retention, one item was dropped from the surveys. That item asked draft picks whether or not they liked the team that drafted them. The remaining items are listed on the College and Professional Player Surveys (see Appendices C & D). A complete tally describing which items received “invalid” or “no opinion” responses is included in Appendix G.
Table 1 displays the test-retest reliability coefficients (N=16) as well as means and standard deviations for each item on the survey. Means and standard deviations for the entire sample are included in Appendix H. A criterion of .70 was determined as a minimum coefficient value for reliability. Four items failed to meet the .70 criterion for item retention. Those items were removed from further data analysis considerations (see Table 1).
|Item||mean 1||sd 1||mean 2||sd 2||R|
|Draft round expected||4.25||0.93||4.13||1.02||.74|
|Felt college would improve draft status||1.50||0.63||1.44||0.51||.67*|
|Money for college offered||1.44||0.51||1.44||0.51||1.00|
|Differences in contract offers||4.31||1.20||4.38||0.96||.89|
|Told scouts: easy sign||3.88||1.15||3.81||0.98||.85|
|Told scouts: hard sign||3.38||1.31||3.56||1.41||.92|
|Told scouts: going to college||2.69||1.35||2.81||1.11||.76|
|High school GPA||2.13||1.20||2.06||1.12||.99|
|Looked forward to college classes||3.13||1.26||2.81||1.11||.66*|
|Plans on earning a degree||1.06||0.25||1.06||0.25||1.00|
|Parent’s level of school||3.63||0.96||3.56||0.89||.98|
|Financial advisor’s influence||4.63||1.20||5.06||0.68||.68*|
|College location influence||2.44||0.63||2.56||0.81||.87|
|Family member who played||1.75||0.45||1.69||0.48||.92|
|Other sports played in college||2.00||0.00||2.00||0.00||1.00|
|Wanted to play for Team USA||3.31||1.25||3.31||1.40||.71|
|Wanted to play in a College World Series||1.81||1.11||1.69||0.87||.97|
|Wanted to play for a good program||1.75||1.06||1.75||1.00||.81|
* Unreliable item
The item “other sports played in college” in the reliability table was also removed even though it was answered reliably by all subjects. Upon further consideration, the researcher determined that the item was not worded in a similar fashion on both surveys and therefore, could not be used to compare the two groups.
The items remaining were deemed to be both valid and reliable. They were deemed suitable for comparing college and professional baseball players. A total of 21 factors were used in the subsequent comparative analysis. The factors were:
- The round the player was drafted.
- The round he expected to be drafted.
- The signing bonus he was offered.
- Whether or not his contract included money for college.
- The differences between his contract demands and the organization’s offers.
- Whether or not he told scouts he would be easy to sign.
- Whether or not he told scouts he would be hard to sign.
- Whether or not he told scouts he planned to attend college.
- His high school grade point average.
- His SAT scores.
- His ACT scores.
- Whether or not he was offered a scholarship, full or partial.
- Whether or not he plans on earning a degree.
- The highest level of education achieved by either of his parents.
- The amount of influence his parents had on his decision.
- The amount of influence college social opportunities had on his decision.
- The amount of influence college locations had on his decision.
- Whether or not he had a family member who played college or professional baseball.
- Whether or not he wanted to play for Team USA.
- Whether or not he wanted to play in a College World Series.
- Whether or not he wanted to play for a reputable school or coach.
Table 2 includes a list of Chi-square values, degrees of freedom, significance levels, and gamma scores for each item. Nine items from the surveys discriminated between professional and college players. These items were: round drafted, draft round expected, money for college, difference in signing bonus money, scholarship offers, parent education, location influence, playing for Team USA, and playing for a reputable college or coach. Frequency distributions for each item analyzed are reported in Appendix I.
|Draft round expected||14.48||4||.006*||-.672|
|Money for college offered||4.92||1||.027*||-.632|
|Differences in contract offers||37.50||4||.001*||-.982|
|Told scouts: easy sign||5.10||4||.277||-.035|
|Told scouts: hard sign||5.49||4||.241||.355|
|Told scouts: going to college||3.26||4||.515||.055|
|High school GPA||5.70||3||.127||.411|
|Plans on earning a degree||3.82||1||.051||.75|
|Parent’s level of school||12.86||4||.012*||-.598|
|College location influence||17.86||4||.001*||.715|
|Family member who played||0.08||1||.780||.085|
|Wanted to play for Team USA||10.34||4||.035*||.364|
|Wanted to play in a College World Series||5.36||4||.253||.358|
|Wanted to play for a good program||13.76||4||.008*||.510|
* p< .05
Frequency distributions for items exclusive to each group’s survey are included in Appendices J and K.
One third of all college players surveyed reported current Grade Point Averages of 3.0 or above while 69.4% reported that they were at least considering careers based on their majors. No subjects reported they definitely would not consider such careers.
Some professional players (15.6%) reported they considered college solely as a bargaining chip to use while negotiating their contracts. Twice that number (31.2%) were opposed to such a perception. A further 31.2% reported that they were attending either a 2-year or 4-year college or university during off-seasons.
Two types of open-ended responses were collected: directed and inclusionary responses. Directed responses were elicited by items that specifically requested information (see Appendices L & M). Inclusionary responses were elicited by requesting subjects to include any perceptions that related to each section, but were not covered by the items on the survey. The responses to these items, including those which asked for explanations why players made their playing choices and to list any regrets they had about their decisions are listed in Appendices N and O.
Appendix P contains Spearman rank-order correlation coefficients between the variables using both groups as pooled data. Two noteworthy relationships (rs > .71) were revealed between ACT and SAT scores (rs = .75) and scholarship offers and differences in contract offers (rs = .73). Only the latter of these relationships was exclusive to the set of factors that discriminated between college and professional players. Therefore, it was deemed appropriate to discuss each discriminating variable individually except for scholarship offers and differences in contract offers.
Content validity was established for both surveys. One item was deemed invalid by experts. Remaining items underwent test-retest reliability assessments which resulted in the removal of four additional items. One further item was removed due to discrepant wording between surveys. Group comparisons using Chi-square analysis discriminated between the two groups on nine items. Two of those items were highly correlated. Two types of open-ended responses were elicited that provided additional insight into the decision-making factors.
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Geoff Miller’s book, Intangibles: Big-League Stories and Strategies for Winning the Mental Game — in Baseball and in Life, was released in August, 2012. For more information and free sample chapters, please visit:
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