Say what you want about the current NBA and college basketball landscape, but there's one thing that we all have to agree on, it's increasingly static and it's lucrative! And I can't see it changing for years to come as college basketball players with the talent say forget class and let's get paid.
For the last decade almost, and more intensely the past three to four years, the discussion about whether or not the one and done rule is good for the NBA has been heating up. This year there has been an unprecedented number of one and dones entering the NBA draft, most noticeably the University of Kentucky seeing its top seven players enter their names into the 2015 draft. Many purists are arguing that the age limit should be raised because they've seen the quality of college basketball and the pro game diminish over the years from the lack of quality and seasoned players. They believe that young players who leave school too early have robbed the college game of young stars but also saturated the NBA with raw talent that isn't able to produce on the demanding pro stage, hurting both levels tremendously. There are others who say that once you're 18, you should be able to earn a lucrative living if your talent warrants it and if there's a team out there willing to give you a chance. I'm one who tends to learn towards the latter. We live in a world where once you turn 18 and graduate high school, you can legally purchase things such as cigarettes that lead to cancer and death and you can enlist in the armed forces, be shipped across the world and be killed. If you ask me which of the three I would rather do given the option, signing a lucrative contract to play a sport I love and take care of myself and my family would be number one for me. Although I'm a former college athlete I wasn't afforded the opportunity to do so, so I graduated college, got my degree, and looked to take on the work force with zeal and fervor. Only one thing happened that no one told me about, nor could I prepare for. The bottom fell out of the economy and there were no jobs. As a matter of fact people were actually losing their jobs and homes left and right. So tell me, all of you that think that the only option is to go to college and get a degree, what good did my degree do for me then? I'm not saying that college isn't a viable option, as I'm very proud of my degree. But realistically speaking, my degree did me no good with the current state of the economy. And although I have a job now, two as a matter of fact, I dont use or need my degree for either one of them. Some will point to the down side of kids leaving school early to embark on dreams of professional success and failing as a reason to persue higher education. But that's something that can happen even with a college degree. I've known folks of all walks of life who are educated and some without degrees and I'll tell you first hand, you may not be able to tell who has a college education and who doesn't.
The bottom line is, this day and age it's not all about what you know, but about who you know. Let's get real, its hard to justify to a kid from a poor back ground why you won't allow him the opportunity to play pro ball and help out his family financially but it's okay to remain broke and die in a foreign land for political views that may not concern or benefit him. People talk about the need for maturity and being morally corrupted by the riches of the NBA as another reason why this shouldn't be allowed, but no one says that about Professional Baseball who signs kids right out of high school and is a sport where on average, salaries and contract lenghts are a lot more than those of NBA players. Or how about soccer, where massive teams such as Real Madrid or Barcelona are signing players as young as 10 years old. Some say, "well these soccer teams have boarding school like programs that educate these kids and raise them in a proper culture". This is not always true, it may be for those who make the grade and are good enough to make it to the senior level squads but there are stories about some who couldn't live up to the talent expectation and production requirement and were just dumped. I've heard a few peers say, "well they are only doing the age or years removed from high school requirement for basketball and football because it's more of a racial issue". While these two sports are the only two with age requirements and are two of the only sports with predominantly black athletes, I can say that it does look suspicious. But I also agree with and understand the limit and requirements for the NFL because their excuse that the pro football game is too physical and fast for young kids really strikes a chord with the new studies about head injuries that have surfaced. The NBA on the other hand, there's no real valid excuse to me. Let these boys play if they have the talent, it's their job and the team that drafts them responsibility to develop these players if they aren't quite ready. Just like any job, you have to put the work into it!
In an age where colleges are making money hand over fist from the talents of these young men, and where a college degree doesn't guarantee you a career with a pension like it used to, I think the writing is on the wall with which direction these young men will go. I say go where your heart takes you. If it's to get a degree then they should be free to get the degree. But if it's to go pro early, then let them. We have to stop letting everyone make money off these young men while refusing to let them make money off of themselves and their god given abilities. This is America right? Or is the home of the free not really the home of the free?