The Waiting Game

ImageDo you ever pause and think about what happens to athletes when their careers are over?  Where do they go?  What do they do?  How will they be remembered?  It becomes quite the debate when we discuss the pro’s and con’s of kids staying in school longer.  The most common arguments tend to focus on monetary opportunities and the advantages that they’ll have.  I don’t know why this varies from sport to sport, because last time I checked, 19 and 20-year-olds that play basketball, football, baseball and all of the other sports out there may be different in respect to the game they play, but they’re still just kids when you take away the component of sports.  I don’t disagree that the kid who came from nothing shouldn’t have an opportunity to compete at the highest level.  What bothers me is when precedence has been set and we as a society feel that it’s okay for these kids to become professionals after only one year of school.  I will be the first to admit I’m not an expert on the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and this is just my opinion, but I feel one of the biggest reasons athletes are not eligible for the draft until they’ve been out of high school for one year ultimately boils down to them having an additional year for their bodies to develop.  Whereas, the NFL’s expectations are that these athletes attend college for a minimum of three years.  Yes, football is more physical, but you still get pretty beat up in the paint and off the boards in basketball.  For me, athletes that miss the latter years of college are also missing out on very important life lessons and opportunities that will be available to them once their athletic careers are finished.

There is hope though and significant progress being made by the NFLPA.  While the new rule probably annoys most, if not all, NFL teams that are very eager to see what the rookies they drafted this year will do on the field, they’ll have to wait just a little bit longer.  Mandated in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, rookies will now report just a little bit later to their team’s OTA programs as they wait for their own graduation.  You heard it, the NFLPA actually values the education that these kids are getting and in return expects them to complete all of the hard work they’ve put forth in the classroom over the past, give or take, four years.  Before the Dolphins and Bears complain about Dion Jordan and Kyle Long being late, think about what Andrew Luck did on the field this past season.  Oh yeah, Luck was also delayed because of this rule and if I’m correct, it hardly hurt his performance on the field.  Now we just need these kids to read Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s take on the “20 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was 30”.

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‘Phins Out of Water

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We’ve heard quite a few NFL players voice mixed opinions about the power that current NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, holds.  Judge, jury and executioner have even been used on more than one occasion.  Unfortunately, for Goodell, this assessment is accurate when you take in to account his neglect for a built-in “check and balance” system.  The Commissioner currently will assign a committee to investigate the actions of players, where he then assesses the evidence provided and then delivers what he deems an appropriate punishment.  Who are coaches and players supposed to appeal to when they do not agree with the sanctions that they face?  Oh yeah, the guy that delivered them in the first place.  I don’t know if this confuses the rest of Sports Nation, but I know it leaves me scratching my head.

Meanwhile, Goodell takes it upon himself to convince the Miami Dolphins that they needed to upgrade Sun Life’s Stadium from its current state so that the stadium could have a chance of hosting a Super Bowl.  Goodell would go on to suggest to Rick Scott, current Florida Governor, that, “a new stadium would send a strong message to owners preparing to vote on the next two Super Bowls.”  Is that so Roger?  Why did Sun Life Stadium get to host the Super Bowl in 2010 and suddenly they aren’t good enough to host another unless there are $400 million in upgrades?  Roger, I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to the news in South Florida over the past five years, but taxpayers really aren’t all that excited about spending more money on stadium upgrades after being duped in to paying for the Marlins new home.  To make matters worse, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee went on to say, “We will not put our own money into our own stadium, and since the taxpayers won’t pay for it, we’ll threaten to move.”   Hey Mike, I have a suggestion – GROW UP!

Despite the immaturity of a 49 year old CEO and a Commissioner that thinks he’s the Godfather, the Dolphins may have some hope in the form of the NFL’s G-4 Stadium Loan Program.  Since publicly financed stadiums are hardly the most popular topic in South Florida at the moment, I think this could be a more viable option for the Dolphins to consider.  That is, once Mike Dee removes his head from his ass and quits telling people “that the lack of renovations or a new stadium could jeopardize the team’s future in the city.”  It feels more like a conciliation prize, but at least Stephen Ross’ stance is, “Let the voters vote and decide.  This is a tremendous economic impact to Miami-Dade County and we’re just asking to allow the voters to vote.

I’m sorry South Florida, but you deserve better than this.  Maybe one day the politicians will wake up and quit treating you like puppets.  In the meantime, go enjoy the sun and sand!  Football season is right around the corner!