Teens in big leagues

Modern sports have benefitted from the fact that thousands of universities across the country are actively involved in athletics. Collegiate sports, namely college football and college basketball, have become such a sports staple in the past few decades that they actually challenge professional sports in popularity. Thus, elite high school athletes are content to play for a university before entering a professional draft.

“If you’re a real fan of football, I don’t know how you can’t prefer the college game to the NFL,” CBS Sports writer Tom Fornelli argues on cbssports.com.

Still, the possibility of making millions of dollars in the big leagues often draws these athletes to the pros straight out of high school, or after one year in college.

“Money is a great incentive to play,” according to College Express in an article regarding student athletes. “Athletes do work to bring money in.”

Although it sounds like a good idea to require high school athletes to attend a university prior to jumping right into the madness of professional sports, note that it occurs very rarely. The age requirement stands at 19 for basketball players, or one full year after high school before entering the draft. The NFL requires three years in college. Inherently, a requirement to go to college would only deprive those young men from making money and providing for their family when they are fully capable of doing so.

The intent of an age requirement is to prepare those unique talents that are capable of playing professional sports before they reach their 20s. There is concern for the maturity and health of these athletes, as most athletes need a transition period between high school and the professionals in order to mature. On the other hand, playing college ball brings in the risk of suffering a serious injury that could hurt a professional career. There is no question that the sports world as a whole wants these student athletes to thrive as they progress through their careers. Simply, though, an age requirement would make little difference as to protecting athletes from harm.

Johnny Manziel, one of the most successful college quarterbacks in recent years, attended Texas A&M University for three years before entering the NFL draft. After entering the league, he instantly started committing multiple offenses, from assaulting his girlfriend to public intoxication. Manziel’s NFL career had all but bit the dust. Those three years he spent in college did not mature Manziel enough for the pros, and college will not provide that maturity for many athletes down the road. Furthermore, there should be no attempt to prepare those athletes who can’t handle the pros because that could ultimately hurt the few that are indeed mature enough to play with the big boys straight out of high school.

Despite the fact that young athletes far too often throw themselves into the professional sports world at a tepid age, the leagues governing these players do not need to establish a minimum age for draft entrance. Athletes with the talent to play professionally after high school or a single year of college have the right to make money for themselves and their families at whatever age they feel necessary. As always, these young athletes will capture the essence of competition, and they will once more showcase their skills on the biggest of stages.