Conscription in Sports

Joe D.Analyst IJune 15, 2008

As I mentioned in a previous article, the exposure of sports media could drive us to the point of tuning out.  As much as I would love to get away from that topic, I won't be satisfied until I drive one more point home. 

As ESPNU's marathon broadcast of National Signing Day, the coverage of the NFL/MLB Draft, the premature scholarship offers and the debut of NASCAR phenom Joey Logano has proven to the sports mass that youth is in. 

While this is real shock to anyone considering the fact that if you are in an NFL RB that is 28 years old you are "aging," it's getting more extreme by year. 

It wasn't so long ago that the only real hype towards a young rookie as being "the next big thing." However thanks to recent website creations (YouTube, MySpace) and the internet itself, the real "future" is now in the collegiate and high school ranks (with the occasional middle school star getting some publicity). 

So much money is being invested in these young athletes that they do not get the proper time to adapt to facing much older opponents or even maintaining a healthy social life. 

The MLB Draft proves to everyone that a high school athlete has to make an important decision. While we usually guffaw at those who "threaten" their potential bosses by saying, "If you don't sign me for X amount of dollars, I'll GO TO COLLEGE!" they do have every right to say that. 

It's known that for the most part, the MLB Draft is the biggest crapshoot of them all. If you are getting drafted out of high school, you have nothing but a diploma to your name. Due to the rigors of a professional season (whether that be in the minor leagues or majors), you won't be able to go back to College until your playing days come to an end. 

Sometimes the end comes earlier for others and with the rising costs of college tuition, they end up COMPLETELY flaming out.  By going for the best possible dollar amount, you are guaranteeing yourself a safe amount of money just in case something goes wrong. 

Of course it's easy for us, as diehard fans, to hold grudges against some of these young athletes as we want to see them play immediately.  Or if we are from an opposing team, we just say "just go to college and try again in four years."

But sometimes, skills can erode if injury happens or just some who can't make the transition to facing older players.  Let's face it, a 18-year old prospect is much more exciting than a 22-year old prospect who's drafted in round 16.  Then, if the aforementioned prospect doesn't pan out, "at least he has a college education in his hand." 

But look at some of these sports schedules.  Whether it's the offseason or the regular season, these students probably focus fully on baseball than their schoolwork. You can't blame them either. Unfortunately, most schools don't give a lick if you have a low GPA or even minor discipline problems—as long as you can give them positive exposure on the field. 

Some athletes are in school for one reason—sports.  If you put in a major chunk of your school days into sports, your academics can easily suffer. 

Plus with the sports world the way it's scrutinized today, you need to even have very high social skills in order to thrive off the field.  If you can't get along with others do to the pressures of working out all the time, how are you going to talk to a reporter who's criticizing you after going 0-3, with 2 Ks and one error in the field? 

With the drama surrounding "prima donnas" such as Chad Johnson or even Kyle Busch, some wonder why these guys have the snobbish attitude.  Busch was anointed as being the "next big NASCAR star" when he was just 16 years old.

I'm at that same age and if someone was telling me that I'd be the next big star, I would sure as hell have all the confidence in the world.

The drama that surrounded Terrelle Pryor's college choice was so severe, I wondered how he could possibly go to sleep soundly without worrying about a PSU fan beating down his door. 

Pryor seems to have a great head on his shoulders, thankfully, but with all the attention focused on other athletes like him, it's no surprise to see them get frustrated when they are out of the spotlight. 

In the NASCAR world, you can even get signed to a driver development deal BEFORE you are in the 6th grade as Matt Martin found out. 

When will this end?

Comments Appreciated.