Young people always have many decisions in front of them. For a star athlete, the decisions are placed under a microscope.
Why did you go to this school? What if you get injured? Won’t you make more money if you do this instead?
Questions come at you from all sides. We see a lot of athletes get caught up in it. They believe their own press clippings and they feel they are untouchable.
Decisions are based less on the heart and more on financial situations, with the mindset that money will equate to happiness.
What is happiness really worth?
The factors that go into making a person happy can be drastically different. So, when a person makes a decision that doesn’t mesh with your own personal belief system, confusion is bound to arise.
For some people, being financially independent makes them happy. Other people base their happiness on personal relationships, such as with their family or loved ones. Some people are happy just doing what they want to do, no matter if that makes them rich or poor.
For an athlete, the amount of money in question is certainly more than the average person.
Does that always mean that money is the determining factor in all decisions, just because the amount is greater than your average nine to five position?
Decisions on where to work are agonized over, and it is not even one-fourth of the money being offered to a college athlete with pro potential.
In a way it is understandable, from the financial perspective, why the decisions these young men make are debated so heavily.
Does the amount of money make a person unable to make a decision on what would make them the happiest?
Most young high school stars make a big show out of what school they are going to choose. Having a press conference, taking more than one hat to trick those that are watching on what their decision will be.
It is hype and the public eats it up. The young men eat it up. But while this is common, it is not always the case.
A young man who was a four star quarterback out of high school and had numerous offers to choose from, decided to stay home. He announced his decision quietly. His legacy was to be in his home state, not at some other school.
He just wanted to do what seemed natural to him, to play for his hometown school. He had offers from professional baseball and an instant professional career, but decided that growing up and enjoying the college experience was more important to him.
Fast forward to the end of the 2009 season, and all the talk is about how this young man is a potential first-round NFL pick. For a lot of athletes, this is a sign to make the jump.
Not for Jake Locker; he values the experience at Washington. After a 2008 season that ended prematurely with injury and resulted in watching his team go 0-12, Locker had the opportunity to take the money and run.
For the second time the Angels of Anaheim selected him for the Major League Baseball draft. The first time he passed on signing, but this time he did not. Did that mean he was abandoning football for baseball? Nope.
Locker was securing his future in baseball so, if college is as far as his football dream takes him, his days as an athlete are not over.
This decision foreshadowed his choice in turning down the NFL. He doesn’t need to play a senior season to go play baseball.
Instead of taking the money and becoming a professional athlete, he used the money to keep himself in school. By not being on scholarship, he is freeing one to be offered to a future athlete.
How did he make his announcement of this headline-grabbing decision? Locker and his dog wandered into Steve Sarkisian’s office and informed his coach he was returning.
What, no press conference?
Aren’t all athletes self-centered? Isn’t it all about the money?
Although, many people will continue to search for reasons to justify Locker's decision financially, such as the report that the NFL did not give him a first round pick grade.
What is the problem with this reasoning?
He didn’t even wait for the results from the committee. He knew that he was not done growing up and he was not done enjoying his college experience.
Unless you simply do not trust the word of Jake and Scott Locker, the decision was about what felt best, not what would make his bank account the largest.
Jake Locker will make his money one way or another; there was just no reason to rush into the professional world when you don’t feel ready.
We should all be less concerned about how much money Locker is going to make, as it is a decision he made that, from all signs, was not about the money.
Our job is to support the young man as he represents the great University of Washington for one more season on the gridiron, not second guess his decision.
Plus, there is just a little bit of unfinished business for this Huskie: to lead his team to a bowl.