For many young athletes, hearing your name called in any pro sports draft is the milestone of a lifetime – an indication that a dream was realized. And up until just a few years ago, that was enough to be satisfied.

After years of mismanaging talent and misinterpreting development, the large contingent of once-prized prospects turned minor league journeymen have shined a light on the inadequacies of pro sports’ developmental systems, creating a disconnect between what it means to be drafted and actually making the big leagues.

This year, two elite high school athletes challenged the norm by choosing to take a different path to the pros. Their individual defiance of the traditional draft system could change the way prospects reach the pro ranks forever.

The NFL is probably most notable for the festivities that surround its draft. This year in Nashville, the 2019 NFL Draft set a record for attendance, with 600,000 fans showing up to party while draftees saw their lives changed forever right down the street. For those that couldn’t make it to the draft, they tuned in from home. 6.1 million people took that route, tuning into any of three major T.V. networks that covered the event. Its appeal has grown to the point that some fans even anticipate the announcement for where the league’s live draft will be held the following year, so they can plan vacations. Long story short – most fans thoroughly enjoy the spectacle that the NFL Draft has become.

The NBA draft’s fanfare isn’t on the same level as the NFL, but it’s still no modest gathering. The proceedings are held at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn every year, with a contingent of NBA fans showing up to watch their team add fresh talent. Some fans even see their reactions go down in NBA lore – for example, a fanbase might boo their next franchise player on draft night without even realizing it.

Case in point. Just an example of how much pressure is placed on players at such a young age, with expectations to perform right away.

That reality might not be as true as it is in the MLB, where players don’t truly have an identity for, in most cases, three-to-four years after they hear their names called. That’s why there isn’t as much widespread excitement or intrigue with the MLB Draft as there is with the NFL and NBA Drafts. It would actually be interesting to see how many people knew when the MLB Draft takes place every year.

It makes sense – with 40 rounds and very little mainstream hype surrounding most prospects, it’s easy for the pro baseball draft to get lost in the shuffle.

Click to Page 2 to read about the different paths that athletes take to the top-flight division of their respective leagues.

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