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”.