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Autor: anton 13 November 2010
Words: 1976 | Pages: 8
High School Athletes becoming Professionals
Lebron James, who is the so-called next Michael Jordan, and Freddy Adu, the American soccer phenomenon, both have something in common. They are professional athletes and with millions in their pockets with a countless number of endorsement contracts. Whether it is high school athletes skipping college and discontinuing the development of their education for millions of dollars, or teenagers signing contracts with businesses for massive amounts of money, youth sports programs are changing rapidly. However, American high school athletes are not financially, physically, or mentally prepared to tackle and endure the pressures of professional sports.
Society today allows fourteen to eighteen-year-old athletes to make millions of dollars and eventually become stars. From Lebron James, signing with Nike for ninety million dollars before even stepping on the court, to Freddy Adu, signing with Major League Soccer to be the youngest professional to ever sign a contract in United States history, teenagers of today are changing. Freddy Adu is the youngest player on a major league team since Fred Chapman was fourteen years old and played baseball for Philadelphia in 1887. Adu, born in Ghana, signed with the MLS to play for D.C. United in 2003. He and his family moved to Potomac, Maryland in 1997 and he eventually became a United States citizen in 2002. He signed with Nike for one million dollars in 2000, becoming the youngest professional to sign an endorsement deal with Nike. Greg Couch, a writer for the Sun Times states, "Are we ready for this? Because if Freddy Adu makes it big, then the battle to save little things like fun and imagination in youth sports is gone." He is absolutely right. What happened to the main reason to play sports- have fun? These young children won't understand fun after being demanded, day in and day out, from the most rigorous coaches to perform to a level they have not been exposed to yet. They haven't been exposed to that level because they skipped the most important part of their life and career, and that is college.
In rare cases, there's one athlete that comes along and is very special. Sappenfield of The Christian Science Monitor says, "In some instances, they are truly unique athletes. In others, they are simply the products of a new and hyper-competitive youth-sports system, lured to big-time athletics by bad advice and the prospect of outlandish wealth and rock star glory" (Sappenfield 1). Kids, not exposed to the rest of society outside athletics, do not know how to live and support themselves, except that of college students in a way. Millions of dollars in their pockets could be a dangerous idea. They may not be able to withstand the pressures of professional sports and spend all their money on drugs and alcohol. What they do not understand is that once they are in that spotlight, there is no turning back. Young athletes are exciting to see in professional sports, but it makes you think of what they actually went through and handle in everyday life as a teenager. In addition, Isamu Bae says "Professional scouts must attempt to decipher the maturity level of players, and for athletes in their teens, it is nearly impossible to figure out." Growing up, the time a child would have playing with his friends or going to the movies, would not be there like for any normal kid. They made the sacrifice to play sports rather than have a social life and be a regular kid.
Marty Blake and other NBA scouts said, "No high school player belongs in the NBA" (Unknown 1). They don't have the body type or mental strength to withstand night-in, night out beatings by bigger and faster people than them. Getting your education should be your first and most important priority in life. Scholarships and other academic money will help you learn things that you will never learn in your life. College ends up tapping into your outside sports life and lets you learn there are greater things and achievements than just sports. A more mature and literate person tends to be of better use to the rest of the world, and a better athlete.
Nevertheless, Tiger Woods went to college but left early to turn pro although everything worked out okay for him. The Williams sisters played in tournaments in there teens and went pro early. Everything worked out okay for them without going to college. Lebron went pro early out of High School and it seems to be working out. On the other hand, with Adu going pro, if that works out and it seems to be, then we as a society are subjecting our kids and the youth sports organizations they are in.
Over the past few years, many professional leagues have been trying to pass minimum age requirements. For example, "The NBA says it would prefer a minimum age requirement of 20"(Satterfield 1). Other leagues however, like the MLS has its own idea. MLS offers kids leaving college or coming out of high school the option to be a Project-Fourty player. The league offers $35,000 dollars to the player to attend a college while playing along with pre-made living arrangements. Only four Project-Fourty players are allowed on one team however. European soccer clubs created their own academies for the soul purpose of creating superstars under their care and supervision. Meanwhile, having them get an education too. The likes of big soccer stars like David Beckham and Ryan Giggs, along with many other renowned players signed with Manchester United at around age eleven. They were taught the skills, both physically and mentally, to become the best at what they do.
In rare cases, there is one player that comes along that is very special separate from the rest. For example, Michelle Wei was thirteen when she became the youngest player ever to make an LPGA event. Accord to the Christian Science Monitor, Dr. Tripps, a sports psychologist says, "Part of this is an outgrowth of the specialization of youth sports." Tennis, out of any sport, builds up many coaches to develop star teen talent. Anna Kournakova and Jennifer Capriatti were both examples of that. Well-known coaches suckered them in, built up their skills, and marketed them in tournaments at the age of thirteen just to say they were there coach of them. Welcome to today's society of cutthroat sports programs that just want the fame and glory they think they deserve.
With professional sports drawing the best and most exciting players, every sport has there own developmental leagues to shape that talent. Hockey and baseball both have developmental leagues and systems. Hockey and Pittsburgh Penguin's star Marcus-Andre Fluery just turned nineteen, and was playing for a Quebec junior league for at least three years before signing his contract with the NHL team. However, basketball relies on college to shape the skills of young, nieve stars. With Lebron James, and many other high school stars that were all drafted in the first rounds of past NBA drafts within the past few years, the league is now depended upon to shape their skills and their potential talent. The style and excitement that Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan gave the league has declined rapidly since there retirement. "Off the court, a new generation of athletes is being thrown into an adult world without a safety net." (Sappenfield 2) That is because of the mass number of young kids entering the league early before there skills can be refined the by the doings of great college programs. An online article states, "A college coach is used to helping high school boys turn into men." (Unknown 1)
Gymnastics and figure skating stand out more than any other sport as far as commitment and time wise goes. You have to spend hours of training in each sport, not to mention the mental aspect of each. You have to decide before the age of ten to decide truly if your going to fully commit to the sport or not. You have to decide if you want to be on a strict training schedule and be in a physically demanding sport that requires hours of your spare time. Joan Ryan's book, Little Girls in Pretty Boxes brings people attention to the dangers of gymnastics and figure skating. It talks about the dangers from eating disorders to career ending injuries with lifetime effects and from mental trauma to even death.
Coaches in each of the sports are very demanding and give little sympathy to their athletes under their supervision. Betty Okino was considered to be one of the best gymnasts for her age in America. But when she lay on the floor with a broken back in training one day, it was her coach, Bela Karolyi, who yelled at her for being a quitter. With all the behind the scene events that troubled some people, the public media hyped many occurrences going on and forced there to be a minimum age requirement. The U.S. Olympic committee said gymnasts and figure skaters had to be at least sixteen to compete in the Olympics. Reasons for change are very plain and simple. Older woman tend to be more mature, physically and mentally and know how to handle stress and physical, strenuous competition. Also, judges now days require, every year, more difficult jumps, vaults, and basically demand that you go faster. Older woman tend to have a harder time with these moves because they are bigger and more mature than the younger gymnasts and skaters who tend to do it with ease. "Maybe raising the minimum age is a good thing, because it will discourage these sports from forcing athletes to master ever-more-difficult moves." (Unknown 1) The U.S. Olympic committee is however the only committee in the world to actually recognize the problem and therefore make restrictions for each of its athletes in competing.
In conclusion, teenagers involved with professional sports should not be antagonized. The pressures of professional sports can tear a teen apart if he does not have the right attitude. Financially, money can be everything to a person, but the real athlete would say that money is just an extra. A real, and true athlete would say why should you get paid for doing something you love more than life it-self. Physically, teenagers are too small and weak to be competing against full-grown men. Mentally, kids cannot handle it. Being physically demanded to do hard, painstaking work could take its toll of the mental state of a young-man that is just getting to know him-self. All in all, every kid has the right to an education and should get one before stepping out into the real world and being thrown into an atmosphere of fame, glory, and money. An atmosphere a teenager is not ready for.
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Carter, A. CinQue. Athletes Should Stay In School Before Relying On False Dreams. 29 Oct 1998. Daily Bruin. 22 April 2005 .
Couch, Greg. And The No. 1 Reason Not To Turn Pro At 14Ð’â€¦. 20 Nov. 2003. Chicago Sun-Times. 10 Apr. 2005 .
Keller, Mandy. Bylaw Article 12: Amateurism. July 2003. The National Collegiate Athletic Association. 9 Apr. 2005 .
Ryan, Joan. Little Girls in Pretty Boxes. New York. Warner Books. 1 Aug 2000.
Sappenfield, Mark. Young, Gifted, and Rich- Behind the Sudden Rise of Teen Sports Superstars. 1 Dec. 2003. The Christian Science Monitor. 9 Apr. 2005 .
Satterfield, Kathryn R. Ready For The Big League. Vol. 9 No. 8. 7 Nov. 2003. Time For Kids. 9 Apr. 2005 .
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