At the age of 16, Bryce Harper recently completed his sophomore year at Las Vegas High School in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Shortly thereafter, Harper made a decision that will impact the remainder of his life: he dropped out of high school after just two years of attending classes.
Rather than earn his high school diploma, the "Lebron James of baseball," as referred to by Sports Illustrated, will attend the College of Southern Nevada. There, he will be eligible to earn his GED once he is 17 (which is acquired by taking a test and is meant for high school dropouts who can't receive a diploma; actual graduates are almost always more successful down the road compared to GED holders).
The lone explanation for Harper's exit from high school is that his ability to be drafted into MLB moves up to 2010, rather than 2011.
Harper, born on October 16, 1992, will be a measly 17-years-old at the time of the 2010 MLB rookie draft. He is projected to be taken first overall, yet that could change if the Washington Nationals decide to go elsewhere considering the price they would be required to pay for his services.
Once drafted, the phenom will spend some time in the minor leagues to become acclimated with professional baseball. A jump from two years of high school, to one year junior college, and finally to the minor leagues will not be an easy adjustment.
But with the talent Bryce Harper possesses, he and his family clearly have no concerns, nor should they. Their little boy, who is quite the contrary, is going to make it big. Possibly bigger than anyone else ever has.
There's no doubt that Bryce is "it." Not many boys at the age of 17 can handle professional baseball and the responsibilities that come with it. But Bryce can.
There's nothing Bryce Harper can't handle. Whether it's 570-foot home runs or throwing 95+ mph fastballs, he's got it covered.
Then, reality sets in. The former sure-fire stud is nowhere near a baseball field. His dreams of launching himself into baseball stardom are shattered.
And now, with no high school diploma, Bryce Harper is left with very little to work with.
The detriment served to Harper as a 17-year-old could potentially ruin the remainder of his life.
He sure is a one-of-a-kind talent, but is skipping out on a high school diploma worth the risk? A college degree can be earned later on in life. Finishing high school is a one-time thing.
The difference between Bryce Harper being selected in the 2010 draft and the 2011 draft is minimal. The likelihood of him even touching the surface of the big leagues before the age of 20 is extremely small.
Harper's parents are doing an enormous disservice to their child.
Bryce is being taught that baseball is life, and life is baseball. The sole reason for choosing the College of Southern Nevada is because it's baseball program is elite when stacked against other junior colleges.
His parents are practically sending him the message that he is going to be the best to ever step on the field. The mention of failure by anyone is glared down. The Harper's shall not tolerate such hogwash.
If only they knew.
Just think; who saw what happened to Josh Hamilton coming? Who's to say the same couldn't happen to Bryce, without the rehabilitation?
There are no guarantees in this world, especially when it comes to professional sports.
The pressure set on the biggest prospect in years is already enough to drive any of us to the brink of insanity. Instead of his parents advising him to stay in high school, allowing him to have something to fall back on if he is unable to make it big, they're guiding him into a field of trouble.
If Bryce Harper is everything he's expected to be, then this decision will never once again be brought to our attention.
But if the slight possibility that Harper falls subject to the pressure of his own hype turns out to be a reality, success outside of baseball will be excruciatingly difficult to achieve.
It's all or nothing for him. It's either Bryce Harper: MLB Superstar, or Bryce Harper: plumber extraordinaire.
Basically, it comes down to one simple question: What would two more years of high school have done to harm Bryce Harper's career?
Bryce Harper and his family are in a rush to become famous. Rather than assuring Bryce somewhat of a future, it's all-in for the Harper's.
They want the money and fame in 2010. Waiting until 2011 is ludicrous to them. He would begin playing major league ball around the same year either way, but they don't care.
It's simply a matter of, "We want him drafted as soon as possible," or, "We want our child to have a future if baseball doesn't work out."
Unfortunately, the Harper's have chosen the former of the two.
In a situation relative to this, I could understand why college isn't necessary. If a future in baseball were to fall through, he could always go to a university afterwards.
But the only way that could happen was if he had completed high school. Now, without a high school diploma, that opportunity doesn't realistically exist.
Don't get me wrong, Bryce Harper has the potential to be the best player of his era. He is the most talked about 16-year-old prospect in recent memory.
The only thing is, potential only gets you so far. There's no free rides in professional baseball.
Harper will have his moment to shine. Yet, if he is unable to prove himself worthy of a major-league contract, his future isn't bright.
I feel for Bryce Harper. I honestly do.
He has a profound supply of talent. I've never seen a player who can play so many positions with such ease. He's throwing 95 mph at the age of 16.
It is absolutely mind-boggling what this kid can do.
Yet, he can't afford to forget how difficult life can be. Bryce Harper could easily turn into the most infamous bust in baseball history. That's how life works.
His ego could eventually get the best of him, or outside forces such as drugs, poor influences, or just the immense pressure could derail his career.
At the worst, a high school diploma would aid him in attempting to live a respectable life if a baseball career is no longer a reality. Bryce won't have one, which leaves him in an extremely difficult position in today's world.
A college degree is almost always required nowadays to make a comfortable living. How can he succeed if he never even passed the 11th grade?
Obviously, I share a completely different opinion than Bryce and his family.
I believe they are under the allusion that he is going to be better than anyone ever before him. He certainly has the potential to be that, but as previously stated, potential only gets you so far.
Harper is going out on a limb by dropping out of high school. I believe it is completely unnecessary, but my opinion doesn't matter to him, nor should it.
All I can hope is that he understands the risk being taken by not completing high school.
Hopefully, Bryce Harper's pure talent can evolve into everything it's said to be.
Truth is, if it doesn't, life after baseball won't be so rewarding.