Thursday, May 19, 2011

What Is Your Price?

A few weeks ago, our class had a passionate debate that forced us to look at college athletes and professional leagues through different lenses. Every league has its own policies concerning who is and who is not eligible to get drafted. The NFL requires a player to be at least 3 years out of high school before he is eligible to enter the draft and the NBA mandates one year out of high school. Meanwhile, the MLB allows teams to draft a player right out of high school, but if the player chooses not to go pro, he will not be draft-eligible until he is 21 years of age. I can’t speak for the entire class, but it seems to me like the MLB got it right. For the select few who are good enough to play professionally and excel, I think they should have the option. I think the MLB’s current policy would be great for the NBA, and consequently, put an end to the “one and done” phenomenon currently plaguing college basketball. I have no problem with the NFL’s rule because of the amount of contact and physical development required for the sport. As a class, we agreed that deciding whether or not athletes are ready to turn pro should be done on a case-by-case/league-by-league basis.

This healthy debate spawned into a more personal debate that hit a lot of us much closer to home. It is so easy for many of us to judge athletes who leave school early to pursue a professional career because many of us do not get that option. In actuality, very few college athletes really get that option. For most of us, it takes four years or more to earn a college degree so we can pursue our professional goals. Many of my classmates have realized that it often takes more than a bachelor’s degree to pursue our professional goals. We have also realized that the industry we are trying to break into or reenter is very competitive. We have to be willing to go the extra mile, work harder, work longer, and get a bit lucky to get to where we are trying to go. This begs the question of what our price is. What are we willing to do? How far are we willing to go? What are we willing to sacrifice? Mr. Keith Lee from the National Consortium for Academics and Sports joined our discussion and made us realize that we all come at a price.

For athletes fortunate enough to play professionally, six and seven figure contracts appear to be the driving force. At the same time, the rest of us have our own price. This point was driven home when Dr. Harrison asked how many of us would leave the DeVos program early if we had the opportunity to get our dream job. There were a few brave souls (myself included) who raised their hands. Mr. Lee furthered this point when he said that he could make us do almost anything if the price was right. That could be leaving school early, moving to a less than ideal city, or doing something unethical. The entire discussion just brought a lot of things into perspective for us. Everyone wants to be successful. Everyone wants to be happy and live the American Dream. Everyone is trying to figure out where they fit in this puzzle we call life. Everyone comes at a price.

Andrew Lilly

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