Rough Draft: Highschool to Pro
There is a line in the movie ‘Miracle’ that somewhat ties into the high school to professional league transfer and the arrogance that can come with those certain athletes. ‘Miracle’ is about the 1980 U. S. hockey team that did the unthinkable in the Olympics in those days: this group of twenty men beat the Soviets, who were the unbeatable dream team at the time. Herb Brooks, the legendary coach of the team, (played by Kurt Russell) dictates to his players:
“When you pull on that jersey; you represent your team and your country. The name on the front is a heck of a lot more important than the one on the back!”
Brooks is trying to tell the team that it isn’t about their own talent, but about working together. I think all athletes hoping to skip college and be an elite athlete should have this lesson taught to them as well as a few others. Big fame and pressure on young shoulders is not a good thing; especially when you can’t trust the ‘young shoulders’ to make the right decisions. Also, are these prodigies really physically mature enough for the harsh activity? Another problem I have with young pro athletes is the career afterwards. A lot of things can happen to a young athletes’ sports career and end it sooner than expected and throw the victim into a not-so-good world of trying to find a job and supporting either themselves or their families. These are all extremely big arguments for athletes skipping college and going professional.
Most football followers know who Randy Moss is. For those who don’t, Randy Moss is a well-known, well-polished receiver that has played for quite a few teams: the Minnesota Vikings, the Oakland Raiders, the New England Patriots, and the Tennessee Titans. But Moss has a few back stories not many know about. Randy Moss was originally going to attend the legendary Catholic university of Notre Dame in Indiana on a scholarship. But in Moss’s last year of high school, he was in a fight; just like that, Notre Dame pulled back their line and revoked the scholarship, right there and then. Talk about arrogant attitude: I suppose Moss didn’t register the fact that he couldn’t do anything he wanted because of things like this happening. I don’t think he was mentally mature and mentally ready for big fame on a scholarship to Notre Dame. That’s probably why he got in a fight. Now we have to deal with his arrogance in the NFL.
One way the NFL deals well with this problem (and other leagues should) is the three year waiting period, which relates to the dilemma of being physically mature before going to the ‘big dog’ league and getting smacked all over the place by ‘veterans’ of the sport. Jim Brown, an NFL Hall of Famer, argues against high school players being eligible for the draft right out of high school. Says Brown: “A key argument for this rule is that young players are not physically able to take the licks.” Brown means that these boys’ bodies are not men’s yet and should not be put into these hard situations at such a young age and such young physical immaturity. This problem is really only a big argument in football and hockey because of the rough play; baseball and basketball, well, you get the idea.
One story of prodigy perfection is the celebrated NHL star Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky was drafted from high school at seventeen to play in the tough, tough environment of the professional hockey leagues. Don’t forget, hockey is a sport where slamming people against a wall is okay. Gretzky was still in high school and playing for the pros. I bet he couldn’t wait to graduate so he could be done with school and have a salary and not even go to college. Talk about talent. Wayne was that good. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that being a pro young is amazing, but I also believe all athletes should go through college before the professional leagues. If I was in that situation, I would welcome college as an opportunity to prove myself yet again, but not all athletes feel that way. Most are hungry for elite action, and avoiding college is how to get it. The career after sports is another predicament you might find yourself in if your rookie year goes bad. Many things can happen in this very unpredictable world, and if you aren’t on your toes, you probably won’t make it where you want. Many rookie athletes are drafted and they don’t receive a giant salary until they prove themselves. Many rookie athletes are also injured and some can’t play again. If you haven’t gone to college, where are you going to live on possibly one payment from one season? You have nothing to fall back on. Nothing. I’m sure none of us want to live in the streets for the rest of our lives. College is important and you should have a degree in place before you head off to fame and fortune. You can’t tell the future; no one can!
I believe that every athlete should go through college as a lesson and use it as another way of getting a good, possibly better, reputation in your sport. Make sure you have a net of ‘insurance’ for after your sports career and a net in place in case something happens. Maybe the professional leagues should take players who have gone to college, who have good grades, who haven’t had bad things on their resume and other expectations that I couldn’t name now but I’m sure are necessary. Go to college, get a degree, and then go suit up in the locker room.