Pe, you raise a very interesting point, and one in which I heard a very spirited discussion on a national sports radio show when Lebron was a junior in high school. There was talk of him suing and skipping his senior year and going pro. Everybody called in saying he needed his education, it was stupid to do this, etc. Then one guy calls in and says, "Wait.... why do you think he needs an education?" The local espn radio "genius" says, "So that he can make a living!!!!" Then the guy says, "So... you think he needs to attend that last year of high school in order to make a living? Do you understand that if he went pro NOW he'd make more in his rookie contract guaranteed than the average American will make in their working life by an exponential amount?" The guys go, "Well.... what if he gets hurt?!!" The guy responds, "It's guaranteed money. He blows out his knee after the first practice, and guess what? He can go to college and get all of the training he needs, or just invest wisely and live comfortably for 100 lives. What's the difference?" They said, "What if he wasn't the first pick in the draft?!!!" He said, "Well, many teams have said they'd take him in the top 5. He'd be looking at the tens of millions guaranteed."
Now, this is the kicker, and something that really made me think long and hard about why I always had the "get an education" viewpoint, and I realized that it was selfish. It is because I was an educator. I valued education. Hey.... students are my customers, right? I can't have them dropping out to go to work. But why do we go to school? To get a job. Why do we get a job? To do something to hopefully pay the bills and hopefully to help out somehow and feel good about ourselves. If you can do that without going to college, then why not?
Then the bomb drops on these eggheads on the radio. The guy says, "So... you're against Lebron going pro?" They say, "Yes, he at least shouldn't try to skip his junior year. That is asinine. Who would ever do such a ludicrous thing? It shows you something about his parents and upbringing when his parents value education so little that they are considering fighting for his right to turn pro at 17 and skip his senior year of high school!"
The guy says, "What do you think about Pete Sampras' parents? Did they do a good job of raising him?" The guys say, "Ummmm, I think they did a great job. Pete is a role model. A class act. He's always working with the youth, is friendly, is a great sportsman, is the best American to play and possibly the greatest ever. His parents obviously did a great job." The caller says, "Pete Sampras dropped out of high school at 15 to go pro and it was 100% with his parent's support. Why aren't you applying that same logic to Lebron's parents? Why are you making value judgements like this? Is it because of the sport they play, or is it because of their race, or what?" They quickly mutter some bullcrap and go to commercial.
It was epic. Pete Sampras did the exact thing (only EARLIER) because he and his parents realized that he was going to be able to make a living earlier than most and he better hurry it up and there was no need to attend school. Brilliant retort by this guy.
We saw Bryce Harper take the GED and enroll in a junior college that used wood bats to get to the majors quicker so he could prove his value and he did skip his senior year of high school and played college to be eligible for the draft. I didn't see a massive uproar over that. In fact, everybody talked about what a brilliant move it was.
Clowney is in a different situation, but it is simply because the NFL has somehow gotten a right to restrict a person's opportunity to make a living while the getting is good. It's pathetic. Clowney is in a bad spot. Here people are saying, "I wouldn't want a guy like that on my team." Why not? Did you see what happened to Willis McGahee in college? It was disgusting. That kid at USC who dropped the weights on his neck. Former Seahawk Itula Mili nearly lost his leg because he had to play out that season and couldn't afford an insurance policy. His leg was literally held on by only skin. That's it. He was minutes away from losing everything from the knee down and possibly his life in the WAC Championship game. Why? Because the NFL has rules and college players get hurt. They are FORCED to wait a certain amount of time. Clowney can't go play in Europe for a year. He has done his service to his school and shown those who will pay his bills that he is prepared to work for them. If you got offered a great IT job while you were a sophomore in school and merely had to do nothing but wait until the following fall for the contract to be in place, would you continue to go to school for the fun of it? Maybe... I mean... it's just IT. But if it's your living, maybe you want to do something else. Go backpack across Europe. Have some fun. Enjoy life. Hang out at home. Start working on certifications and such and working at home as an independent contractor and stop paying to go to school as you've now achieved your goal.
I think that once you've got the skills you need to work, then you're set and go to work. Clowney wouldn't look any worse to me if he sat out. I'd think that the kid is smart and doing what is best, and wants to be fully prepared to give 100% to those who pay him, rather than let a school cash in on him for another year. He's already proved he's the best player around. End of story. Why continue? To be a manly man? To risk injury? To make his coach look good? Those are all nifty things, but it's a cutthroat world. I just got fired from a job for vomiting too much. I say I'd do anything to make sure I was ready to work and I'd say "screw off" to anybody who felt I was making a mistake for sitting a year. There are no minor leagues. He can NOT do what Bryce Harper did, and he can't do what Lebron almost did (and the NBA has changed rules anyway, so now guys go and play one year and don't even attend class, and drop out before spring finals, what a joke).
He's ready to work. He's gotten all necessary training and skills to do the work at the top levels. Why risk it for somebody else? There are always reasons to do it. I see that. But I see the reasons to say, "Nah... I'm good. You don't have a farm system. So I'll just wait until you're ready to pay me." If a team is dumb enough to pass on him then terrific. Somebody else will get a bargain and he'll get paid way more in one season than most of us make in our lives.
R.I.P. Dad. I miss you. You will never be forgotten
1/12/39 - 8/7/08