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By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - When you get right down to it, fair should be fair across the board.

The topic we're talking about ties into the pro baseball and basketball drafts and how the system is skewed.

Let's say you're a dynamite high school baseball player who just led your team to the state championship.

The next day, a major league team calls and says it wants to draft you with its first pick and pay you gazillions of dollars.

You think about it for a second or two and then say, "Sure, I'd love, too." You weren't that keen on going to college anyway.

The next thing you know, you're in some tiny town playing baseball. With a lot of money in your pocket (there are worse things).

Let's say you're an ace tennis player or golfer. You're only 15, but you're really good. Good enough to turn pro and make money. So, you do. And folks like me write glowing stories about what a prodigy you are.

Let's say you're a dynamite high school basketball player who only a few months ago led your team to the state championship.

You're good enough to be drafted by the NBA and make money, but the rules won't let you. You're not too keen on going to college, but you have to go for a year before you can chase your dream.

Let's say you're a dynamite high school football player, the best your state has ever seen.

It's not likely, since your body isn't quite where it needs to be, but you're good enough to be drafted by the NFL and make money. But the rules won't let you. You're not too keen on going to college, but you have to go for three years before you can chase your dream.

What's wrong with this picture is obvious. If you pick the right sport, and are good enough at it, there are no restrictions on when you can start making a living.

In other sports, that's not so.

Sure, the NBA and NFL likes the current set-up. Why wouldn't they?

It's a built in minor league system they don't have to pay for. The NBA would love to increase the years a player has to stay in college. It makes the league look good for stressing education and it also gives its future employees another year of seasoning.

The NFL can simply say (and, as mentioned, they're right) a high school football player isn't ready to play against grown men at age 18.

OK, I'll give them that. But the rare case does happen? Remember, current Tampa Bay Buccaneer Amobi Okoye played on the defensive line for the University of Louisville at age 16.

Let's say you're a dynamite high school computer whiz. There's nothing you can't figure out or program.

The day your last report card comes out, the one with another A+ in computers on it, the big tech company calls and tells you it will pay you a lot of money to come work for it.

You were keen on going to college, but a lot of money is a lot of money, so you say, "Sure, I'd love, too."

The next thing you know, you're part of the business world you always dreamed about and someone is paying you handsomely to do it.

Yes, that's an extreme example, but the point is, there is no barrier in front of you. You're good enough now.

And, if you want to later, you can always go to college.

Flame out in the minor leagues because you can't hit a curveball, or throw a good enough one, and you can go back to school. Sure, you'll be a little older than most of your college classmates, but that's not such a bad thing.

And besides, if you signed a big contract only a few years before, and weren't dumb with your money, finding new friends wouldn't be that difficult.

Again, it's your choice ... something everybody should have.



Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

Copyright 2012