I’m changing the title of this regular feature. I discovered that trying to rant emotionally over a sports topic everyday was a difficult proposition. That’s a good thing, I guess. If sports got me that worked up on a daily basis, I might as well right about politics.
Today’s rant concerns the annual rite of passage where underclassmen selfishly forsake good old State U. and run off to pursue ill-gotten NBA riches…at least that’s what I here from many fans. The concurrent fan reaction to these early entrants is rife with hypocrisy. Think about it. A 19-20 year old is given the dilemma of earning guaranteed millions playing in the NBA, achieving a life’s dream borne in childhood and nurtured with countless hours on the court…or returning to college, risking at least lowering their value and at most catastrophic injury, so they can play for the delight of boosters, alums, and fans paying top dollar to watch their games. Oh yeah, and not get paid a dime (at least over the table).
Sounds pretty clear-cut to me. Forget sports for a moment. If you were a computer science major and Microsoft approached you after your freshman or sophomore year offering a six-figure salary and benefits to join their team, how many of you would say, “no thanks. My loyalty is to the university.” Of course not.
For all the pomp and pageantry and singing of the alma mater, college is essentially a contract. I paid tuition and they prepared me to go out and get a job that would pay my bills for a lifetime, and hopefully for them, have a little left over to donate back. My obligation to my university ended the moment I walked off the stage with my sheepskin, as did theirs. We both fulfilled our parts of the contract. Why are college basketball players any different?
Sure, there are many “intangibles” to the college experience that allow the individual to grow as a person. There’s nothing saying life outside of college doesn’t help these kids mature either, and the pay is much better. I’ve had about enough of the selfish “fans” hypocritically calling out the players for seeking what’s in their best interests. Nowhere in the letter of intent signed by the recruits does it mention martyrdom for the fans and alumni. If Jimmy and Joe’s leaving school for the NBA means your chances at a national title are lessened, so be it. Wish them well and hope they represent the university well as adults, just like we hope any other alum does. Just don’t pretend they owe you anything.
Athletes go to college for the same reason regular students do: to graduate and get paid. If getting paid was available for the rest of the college population before earning a degree, we’d all have been off campus faster than you can say “Sis Boom Bah”!