Nothing wrong with leaving school early for NBA draft
Posted: Thursday April 7, 2005 3:10PM; Updated: Thursday April 7, 2005 5:51PM
The drama is building. Who's in? Who's out? Meanwhile the Hoops Chorus has begun to sing its annual hymns, paying homage to the virtuous college game and vilifying the evil NBA and its empty promises of fame and riches. Oh, rapture! Oh, despair! David Stern is beckoning the nation's basketball youth, brandishing bags of money. How can these lambs resist such a sybaritic sales pitch?
The topic, of course, is the coming NBA Draft, and now that college basketball has concluded its highly successful season, and the last (Lord, please!) Coach K American Express commercial has aired, we turn our attention to the Next Level, to which all of the nation's ballers aspire. In the addled minds of many, those players' raging desires are proof that the NBA has launched a full-on assault on the NCAA game, robbing it of its top talent and threatening TV ratings. Yes, this year's tourney did well, but what happens next year? And the year after that? Stop the flow of talent! Stop the madness! (But not the Madness.)
Stop your whining. There will be about 30-35 collegiate and prep early entrants into this year's Draft, some of whom will be cashing in at the right time and others who will be making business decisions that rival the launch of New Coke. Some schools will be robbed of their top players. Others will watch as prized recruits fail to show up on campus at all. And, you know what, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. Nothing.
Submit a comment or question for El Hombre.
It's time to stop acting as if the NBA is a predatory enterprise intent on ruining college basketball. That argument is wrong on a variety of counts. Think about it for a second. The NFL makes its applicants wait three years after high school before entering its draft. Major League Baseball can pick kids right off the prom dance floor, but those who choose to enter college must wait three years, also. So, do you think Stern is so stupid that he believes a free-for-all draft policy is best? If you do, then you need to go work for Donald Sterling to see what real mismanagement is.
While it pillories the pro side, the NCAA paints the collegiate game as an altruistic enterprise that provides healthy recreational opportunities for its students, instead of a multi-billion-dollar concern that still can't break its addiction to the beer industry's advertising largesse, despite the fact that many of its participants aren't old enough to drink. Come on, people. College sports haven't remotely resembled a school function in decades, and as institutions become more savvy in fundraising, revenue streaming and sponsorship programs, the game becomes more and more like the NBA every day.
With one exception: The players don't get paid. Oh, sure, they get a scholarship, and free education is hardly a consolation prize. But when CBS pays $11 billion for six years of tourney programming, don't you think the players involved in the show deserve a little more than $30,000 a year, especially when they are being promoted by every network that follows the bouncing ball? This isn't a call for the workers of the world, or at least Division I, to unite. It's more about the right to work and the need for people to stop pointing fingers every time a 19-year old decides he would rather hang in the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove than at South Quadrangle. To live with the fact that many players prefer spending their time away from the court rocking Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, instead of slogging through European history.