Sunday, April 01, 2012

A COLD DRAFT

An article in black culture website TheRoot.com deals with the phenomenon of college basketball athletes leaving school as early as their freshman years to attempt to join the National Basketball Association through the annual draft:

http://www.theroot.com/buzz/freshmen-exodus-nba-only-natural#comments


I'm really not sure about the point of this article. What happened to supporting education for its own sake, and not just as a grudging stepping-stone move to theoretical long-term riches from athletics fame and endorsements? I think it would help if there were some published statistics that explain how many ex-college players ended up getting their undergraduate degree after leaving school to join the NBA or other professional teams. I suspect that it is far from 100%, or even 50%.

Sure enough, higher education can't be "forced" on anybody. But hey, America has become a place that is more invested in people having formal credentials-- and in most areas of "white collar" employment, that means a college degree of some kind. Even much "blue collar" employment nowadays requires some type of formal, vocational certification at the very least, even at the entry-level. America is not a place anymore where people can just have a high school diploma or a GED, and expect to find readily available entry-level jobs for those who are unskilled or semi-skilled.

In the past 10 years, look at the ascent of Jeremy Lin, Yao Ming, Mano Ginobli and other non-African-American players in the NBA. The league, as a corporate entity, is looking to recruit more from global and multicultural communities. Not everybody who jumps ship from college early to join the draft is going to become Kobe or LeBron. Not by a long shot. To "Make it" in the NBA, it's increasingly not good enough to just be a talented black American young man from the hood or suburbs anymore.

And when it comes to the post-athletics career, look at what's available. There are only so many slots to be TV sports commentators. Not every ex-athlete is guaranteed a front-office job, especially without a degree.

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