Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Real March Madness: One and Done

Now that we've finished with the March portion of the Madness of college basketball, let's get to the real issue of the insanity of what should be a premier sport: the NBA and its pillaging of the best freshmen and sophomores in the game year after year.

It is about the money, of course, and you can't blame immature--or even mature--teenagers for wanting insane amounts of moolah for jumping high and putting a ball through a metal cylinder. The pilfering of some of college basketball's best talent leaves instability, uncertainty and a good bit of anger among fans. You see it at UNC, Duke, Kentucky and other big-time programs annually. Big signing classes, followed by big signing classes because the previous class is gone before finishing the second semester of its freshman year.

These kids are less legitimate "students" than adults who take non-credit courses for entertainment. At least they finish the courses. The situation is a ruse and a sham and it can easily be stopped by employing the three-year mandatory rule that college football uses. When a kid finishes high school, he can go straight to the pros if he wants, but if he signs with a college team, he is not eligible to be a pro for three years. The NBA would have to agree to this, but why would it when the college agrees to pay and train the kid for a season, then let him turn pro?

The NBA could send those fresh out of high school with no potential to be a college student to the NBADL, its developmental league (Roanoke used to have a team), but that would cost money the teams don't have to pay if the kid is in college.

Nobody, it seems, is considering the kids. And they are kids, teenagers. Will three years of college hurt them? No, it won't. They will grow up some, learn to adjust to being away from home, to travel, to a disciplined life of study, practice and a social life with limits? They likely will learn something--in class--about handling all that money they will have eventually. And they'll almost all be better pro players after three years.

Take a look at the stability in the women's programs (and their graduation rates, which are extraordinary) for some guidance here. Women rarely go to the pros until after they graduate. The money's not there to make it tempting. And they get a degree for that. Few people were ever hurt because they got a degree.

So let's give them a chance to get some education before going into a world they have little chance of understanding. If they get three in, the degree is only one away and my guess is that far more would earn it. Ask football player Emmett Smith who got his degree after finishing play for the Dallas Cowboys. Right now, men's basketball has the lowest graduation rate--by far--of any college sport. That's not likely to change under the current setup where the primary goal is the NBA asap.

No comments:

Post a Comment