The moments like Thursday night and the rest of this NCAA tournament will be electric for the remaining 16 teams.
The thrills of possibly cutting down the nets and celebrating a championship with your coaches and teammates! (Wow! What a feeling!) These guys have probably been dreaming of this moment for a long time and for one team this celebration will be a reality.
Now winning it all will forever put a college player in the record books for being a champion on the court. But, my question here is, "What do these athletes do after the 'Big Dance?'"
I'm one of the biggest fans of college basketball and I love the drama of the games that this tourney gives each year. The buzzer beaters, the Cinderella stories, the upsets (i.e. mid-majors vs. the big conference teams)...all of this is so exciting for me and the rest of the fans of college basketball.
Even the schools represented benefit heavily from the exposure on the national stage. Man, I bet no one ever heard of George Mason until 2006! I know I didn't! This suburban commuter school now is known to have a legitimate basketball program.
Think about how that school's endowment grew and the buzz that is still probably moving through the George Mason University family. This is what college sports is all about, right?
So I ask the question again, "What will happen to 98 percent of these very good basketball players after the nets are cut down, after the interviews with ESPN or CBS, after watching themselves diving on the floor in celebration after a big win at the buzzer?" (And you know it will be shown over and over again on ESPN.)
For the next couple of weekends we will be watching future dentists shoot free throws, future bankers block shots, future high school coaches steal passes, etc.
My point is to encourage these athletes to look beyond the moment for a minute and plan for life after March Madness. Too many Chris Washburns are floating around, waiting for that big chance to play this game of basketball for money—a lot of $$$money$$$.
Most of the time this will never occur for these thrill-makers of college basketball. So, I want to encourage you college "ballers" to stay long enough to get that free degree and have a backup plan.
Because the NBA has only a limited amount of slots to fill and you will be competing with the whole world.
Because basketball is now a global sport.
I also say thank you in advance for the exciting games we all will see and have seen during the 2009 NCAA tourney! Know that someone is thinking about the players that will be professionals in something other than basketball!
Here's to the college athlete not chosen as a lottery pick!!