All In The Family

Five Familiar Steps to Help You Become a Professional Athlete:

1. Be Conceived Around Christmas*

The older you are in your grade, the bigger and better you will be early in your career against your peers. Most important, this will afford you more playing time and more opportunity to increase your skill.

*Time of year can depend on country/school schedules/cut-off dates, etc. So do your homework — this date suggests a September month cut-off, not unusual in the USA public school system

2. Have Older Brothers

Siblings are more valuable than coaches or trainers because unlike the latter, they are always there. The difference in size, and thus skill, challenges the younger siblings to get better faster.

3. Have Once-Athletic Parents Who Never Made It Big

If your parents were too good at sports, there’s a good chance your athletic journey will be too easy. If your parents were almost great, you likely will inherit both good genes and the intense desire to train like a mad person, making up for your parents’ shortcomings.

4. Come From a Lineage of Tall People, Fast People… or Be Black

Preferably all three. Obviously.

5. Come From a Family That Cannot Afford Recreation

It will be helpful if the only thing you can afford to do is play the sport you like. No going to the movies, or taking music lessons, or playing video games. This step does not apply to the expensive sports, such as golf, tennis, or fencing, for obvious reasons.


James Littlejohn is not a professional athlete. He also did not meet any of these steps.

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4 Responses to All In The Family

  1. Jordan says:

    I enjoyed this article. It was very well thought out. I’m a little worried about my son since his birthday is in June…I’m serious too, this is something I have thought about.

  2. Alternate steps that will work as long as you have money:

    1. Set up a shell company that specializes in athletic entertainment.
    2. Quit your day job.
    3. Hire yourself as a player. Make sure that it is your main, paid occupation and not just a pastime. (This is important—the Oxford English Dictionary says this is absolutely necessary.)
    4. Declare your company bankrupt. Take a write-off on your taxes.

    By some definitions of professional, this would be sufficient. It just depends on what are your exact, specific dreams.

    You can also set up a sport that no one plays or dedicate yourself to an obscure sport, but just dedicate way more time to it than any sane person ever would. It will not be lucrative (all the lucrative sports are highly competitive), but it’s possible.

  3. Also, the being born thing—that’s an important thing to model, but what if your school is so small that everyone gets a lot of playing time, but your family is so big that only the best couple kids ever get to play sports? You’d want to be born first in your family so you could be bigger than your siblings and make the family team and you’d want to be the youngest kid in your grade so that you are challenged by having to play against your older schoolmates.

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