The reaction to the news of California high schooler
The tongue-clucking was deafening. You'd think the Book of Revelation had been revised to include skipping a year of high school to play pro basketball right between the sun turning black and the moon turning red. This will kill college basketball, some said. This kid is throwing away his future, others said.
Since no European newspaper sports editor offered me a six-figure salary to skip my senior year of high school, I don't feel qualified to rip Tyler's choice. I've never walked in his high-tops. But I do have a few questions for the folks who consider Tyler's move an abomination.
If he played golf, would you feel differently?
If he played tennis, would you feel differently?
If he had gotten his own show on the Disney Channel, would you feel differently?
Set aside the obvious racial overtones for a moment and consider only the sport-specific double standards. We celebrate individual athletes when they turn pro at a young age.
So why, when a basketball player chooses to play for money before the NBA says he should, does everyone freak out? Because we derive so much entertainment from big-time college football and basketball, we criticize those who would prefer not to enter a system that will cash in on their success while slipping them a woefully disproportionate share of the profit.
"Only in America," said
To put Tyler's situation in perspective, consider the tale of another genetically gifted teen who turned pro two years ago. This Phoenix-area phenom, the offspring of a former professional athlete, had worn out all competitors on the local amateur circuit. So, at 16, the phenom opted to compete for big money.
I refer, of course, to
Don't know Sparks? Then you weren't one of the 29.5 million people who tuned in to watch Sparks best beatboxer
How is any of that different than the path Tyler has chosen? Like Sparks, Tyler will take the online course/homeschool route to finish his high school education. Like Sparks, Tyler will enter a business in which fame is fleeting and performers rarely last more than a few years at the highest level. Yet
"In lieu of doing what's right for kids playing the game," Vaccaro said, "we're protecting college basketball."
It steams Vaccaro to no end that one of the arguments he heard Thursday was that that placing Tyler in the European system -- whatever club he signs with will shuttle him between its age-appropriate developmental squad and its featured team -- will somehow harm his game. If that were true, why does every team in the NBA want a crack at
This would be a much bigger deal if football players had a similar option. After the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear
First, there is a legitimate safety concern. An 18-year-old fresh out of high school might get his neck broken in an NFL game. Second, no one else in the world besides Canada plays the sport at a truly professional level. If
But since this is only basketball, the powers that be won't be powerful enough to find a way to block Tyler's path. Who knows, maybe he will develop his skills more than he would with a year in his mediocre high school program and a year under
If it didn't bother you when Jordin Sparks did it, it shouldn't bother you when Jeremy Tyler does it.