Why the NFL Needs a High School Football Draft, and How Much It Would Be Worth

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Project Summary

Despite recent criticism about the brutality of the game, the sport of football, and in particular the NFL, remain the most played, most watched, most profitable sport and league in the world, netting nearly twice the revenues of is nearest competitors—the NBA and MLB. Every year around the US over one million high schoolers strap up to play High School football, however when all is said and done only the top eight percent will go on to play in college, with just one percent earning roster spots at Division I schools. Despite the massive appeal of the sport and the extreme level of talent of the best amateur players, the NFL, in stark contrast with the MLB does give High School players eligibility in their first-year player draft. Although this discrepancy seems innocent enough at first glance, a deep analysis reveals how the NFL abuses its ability to get away with not paying for player identification and development to impart the entire load of asset risk onto the backs of the players, all while squashing their bargaining power by depriving them of any opportunity value. The intention of our project was to make known the fact that the NFL is exploiting its prospective talent and put a precise dollar tag on the amount of money that is being withheld from the players.

Researching this subject afforded me the opportunity to immerse myself in a wide array of fields and skills. The initial part of the project involved an extensive amount of reading in literature on economic theory with specializations in labor market dynamics and two-party bargaining, as well as in statistical forecasting for financial markets and talent identification. The meat of the project involved an excellent exercise in data collection and rigorous statistical analysis which allowed me to gain a firm grasp on a variety of statistical methods spanning two programming languages and innumerable excel spreadsheets. Perhaps best of all, however, the project gave me the opportunity to work closely with my advisor, Professor Wyner, who provided me with invaluable lessons about the process of research as a constant ongoing conversation in discovery.