Saturday, May 17, 2008

The NCAA: Monopolizing Talent Part II

We will get into the second debate of the NCAA: how long, if at all, should players be mandated to play in the NCAA before they advance to the professional level? Who should decide? 

Obviously there is no right answer to this question. It is simply a matter of opinion. Since blogs are a medium of opinion, here is mine.

Many student athletes, no matter how bright their futures look in the professional sporting world, often fall into financial or social crisis after sports. The careers of football players last, on average, three years. Even if they are successful, they retire by the age of forty at the latest. If you floated in mediocrity through your career, you probably did not make enough to support yourself financially for the rest of your life. A degree would be an excellent fallback option after your athletic career. 

Lets look at a case study: Maryland's own Erin Henderson. To no surprise, he declared for the NFL draft after his junior year after showing outstanding talent in the NCAA world. He was expected to be drafted in the third round, which would have him making mid six figures his first two years, and likely seven figures by his fifth year. To everyone's surprise, he slipped all the way to an undrafted rookie free agent, and was signed by the Minnesota Vikings for very little money (around $10,000). Undrafted free agents rarely stay in the league for a long time and have established careers. That does not mean its impossible (refer to Tony Romo), but it is highly unlikely.

Obviously, Henderson did not get a degree, since he was only in college three years. Only time will tell as to whether he will regret this decision or not. Yet, this is just a case study as to how having a degree to fall back upon is a tremendous asset to an athlete looking to go pro. Also, what if an athlete makes it pro but suffers a catastrophic injury and cannot play anymore? Again, a degree would be a great thing to have in the bank.

All this being said, this is America. It is a free country. Most high schoolers are 18 by the time they graduate, and have parents who have raised them properly. In this wonderful land, it should be up to the player and his family as to whether it is the right decision to go to college, or go straight for the millions. Even in the case of failed pros who came from high school, such as NBA player Kwame Brown, he will make somewhere around $70 million by the time his NBA career ends. Not too bad for a guy without a college education.

While it is highly advisable to go to college in my opinion, people should be allowed to do whatever they want to do. No league should mandate that adults get an education in order to play sports. If you can decide it is your path to skip college and join the military, it should be your prerogative to skip college to play sports as well.

No comments: