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Make Two-Year College Requirement Worthwhile
Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger decided to stay in school, but Kentucky has to reload yet again. Vanderbilt keeps three of their stars while Kansas loses three of theirs.
Despite the ambivalence of next year’s NBA season, college athletes, including many freshmen, have chosen to forgo their years in school for the professional leagues. The big debate that always swirls this time of year is whether athletes should be allowed to leave school after just one year.
It is the choice of every college student whether they want to go to school or not, leave school and work fulltime or not, etc. For college athletes, it would seem the same rules should apply. But when have the same rules ever applied for athletes?
Charles Barkley has a valid point when he says “quit rushing the process.” One-and-done is “killing the NBA.”
Not everyone is Lebron James. Not everyone is even John Wall. James was an anomaly, good enough to come straight out of high school and dominate, the definition of pro-ready. Even Wall made incredible progress this season with the Wizards, despite transitioning to the pros while also having to lead a team on the court and as the face of the franchise.
But most players coming out of college are not pro-ready. They may be the best player on the college team, but they could always use another year in school and on the team to practice before making an appearance in the NBA.
While they may learn while sitting on the bench with a pro team, there are two reasons pro teams don’t want these players who are not ready. For bad teams, there is a sense of urgency. They want to win now and can’t afford to take the time to prep these players to become championship contenders. Great teams don’t want them either because they aren’t ready to perform. Why spend the money on a bench player with no experience when they may be able to get someone with some experience or, better yet, a ready-and-able sixth man?
Solution: Two-year requirement in college. This works because it gives players more experience and practice. Players who don’t want to go? See you in Europe!
But more important than a two-year requirement for basketball purposes, it works for learning as well. Colleges should institute a new major called “Professional Athletics,” a 60-credit degree on essentially becoming a professional athlete, including classes that teach managing finances and maneuvering the business aspects of the profession, etc.
For those players who itch to leave school so they can make money and provide for their families, these classes would be incredibly more helpful to them in the long term than sitting on the bench and cashing a paycheck.
It’s a judgment on the players who chose to enter the league this upcoming season as opposed to stay in school. It doesn’t mean they think less of school than the players who chose to stay. There are good reasons to go to the NBA, but college athletics is also beneficial for many reasons. And more important than making athletes stay is making it worthwhile.