NBA vs. NCAA - My own personal debate

My boys have watched high school phenom Brandon Jennings for the last few years dazzle the courts. I wouldn't call him a role model but perhaps someone who's court game they look up to. We were excited earlier this year when he announced that he would be signing his letter of intent to play for Lute Olsen at Arizona. Yesterday it was announced that he decided to forego college and play overseas instead . And so my debate with NBA vs. NCAA begins.

Pro - Brandon Jennings won't be the last big-time basketball recruit from the 2008 class to choose overseas money rather than the stereotypical college package. We assume that high profile basketball and football recruits often receive "illegal" benefits for pretending to be student-athletes at America's institutions of higher learning. We assume that journalists and news organizations make names for themselves by exposing the fact that the kids and their guardians are just as greedy as the negotiating coach we look up to. Jennings is smart. Why play the back and forth game? Why pretend to be a college student for one semester when he can't even pass the SAT or ACT?

Surely he will have one of his "crew" turn on him the way Louis Johnson did OJ Mayo. After being OJ's "guardian/friend throughout high school the "friend" turned-snitch went on "Outside the Lines" and discussed that he had receipts proving, Mayo had a flat-screen TV in his dorm room, ate a illegal meals and received pocket change from agent Bill Duffy's employees. Shocking! O.J. Mayo is really O.J. Simpson!!! The story didn't hurt Mayo's draft stock, but it may have damaged his possible future endorsement deals and will cost him money in legal fees to fight the allegations. It's a rigged game. There are no winners. Take kids out the ghetto. Dangle money in their face and tell them, just look but don't touch. Why are we playing along? Why are we punishing 18 and 19 year old kids for an insanely idiotic set of rules created by adults? Brandon Jennings is not a bad guy, neither are the other the other five-star recruits who may decided to follow him for a year of basketball study abroad. Rich kids do it all the time. They take a semester off, move to Europe, party, study and broaden their minds.
A 19-year-old from Europe can join the NBA without anyone having a problem. But a teenager from the US who hasn't spent a year pretending to be a college student is forbidden from joining the NBA. Why? Why? The NCAA needs to blow it's own horn. It "pimps" mostly black basketball and football players to provide welfare to sports played by mostly white athletes. In exchange, the football and basketball players get a minimal shot at an education they're not prepared for once they arrive. It's a very long shot at an audition for pro scouts in my opinion. It's a bad deal. The Yankees just gave a 16-year-old boy from Venezuela a $2 million contract. Children play professional golf and tennis. 16 year olds can go on American Idol and sing for the approval of Simon, Paula and Randy.

Suddenly football and basketball players are special. Why?

I don't want to see the NBA and NFL flooded with teenagers but I do want to see the two sports have a little more integrity when it comes to who is setting the rules. They need to acknowledge that college basketball and football players are student-athletes -entertainer-athletes-, not student-athletes. Bring them on campus, give them some type of stipend. They also need to form an alliance with the NFL and NBA and invest in education/athletic academies for talented young basketball and football players of all colors. The NCAA pays its basketball and football players with a currency (education) many of them aren't prepared to spend or value. That has to change, and it's incumbent on the NCAA to be a big part of the change. Starting these student athletes who show promise early and putting them on the path to good education works hand in hand. Maybe Brandon Jennings will go down in history as the young man who forced the NCAA to honestly deal with the hypocrisy, stupidity of its rules.

And Now the Con -

Ask yourself, why do our young athletes NOT value education and aren't prepared to spend it? If you aren't doing something to help THAT problem - you're doing more to hurt it. If we encourage kids that bounce a ball to put all their eggs in the same basket and ignore the value of education - then applaud a kid who fails to do that and attempts a band-aid fix to his problem we are doing more harm than good. If we put this kid on a pedestal how many 10U players will start going down the same path because there is an imaginary pot at the end of the rainbow. That is my concern. Why are parents spending $400 to $700 to send their son to a basketall camp and the kid has a 2.0 GPA or can not even read? I agree that the parents are also part of the problem. How about investing some of that money in tutoring or summer school.

College coaches are generally against the idea of high school players’ playing in Europe. Memphis Coach John Calipari listed a handful of reasons in a recent article. He said the language barrier, games against more physically dominant competition, and the cultural adjustment for a teenager. Calipari and other coaches used the word “exposed” when describing a potential situation in which a player like Jennings would go to Europe, struggle and hurt his draft stock.
“I don’t know if I’d want to be the first one, because your career is on the line,” Calipari said. His concerns are very valid.
We've all heard the argument "If a kid can go off to war and die for his country at 18 yrs. old, then he should have the right to go make a living playing a sport if that what he chooses and he is able to compete on that level. " I'm SO tired of that argument. You can't drink until you're 21, you can't rent a car someplaces until you're 25...the 18 going to war thing is old and tired. Here's the BOTTOM LINE. Employers have the right to set requirements for their employees. PERIOD. NFL did. Court upheld it. NBA has. Deal with....and better yet - go to class and stay ELIGIBLE!!!

too be continued..I'm tired :-)

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