A question that has been at the forefront of the minds of many sports authorities is whether or not professional sports leagues should implement a minimum age requirement before players can turn pro.
My thoughts on the topic are two-fold. Yes and No.
No, because this is a free country. Who are we, or the commissioners of the various sports leagues for that matter, to tell a person what to do with his or her life? Is it not our God-given right to choose our own path? Furthermore, as a college-aged person, you are considered an adult. You can vote, you can get married and most importantly, you can go to war. Now, I am no politician, but in my estimation if you are capable of fighting and dying for your country, you should be able to play professional sports. But then again, that is just my opinion.
That is the theoretical viewpoint regarding the issue. Now, as for the practical side of things, should there be an age requirement in sports? Of course! Here is why. If there is an age requirement, more and more young athletes will be forced to stay in school and get and education. Yes, the point of going to college is to secure one’s future, and you could argue that by going pro an athlete is doing just that. But to put all your eggs in the basket of professional sports is just not smart. While there are instances where young players enter the professional ranks and succeed, a la Kobe Bryant and Lebron James, the harsh reality is that most young athletes who leave school to become professional athletes don’t make it.
Think about it. What happens when a player enters his or her respective sport and gets injured or cut from the team? Their career is shot, the chance of getting a good education becomes slim and the former athlete is left with bills to pay and no way of paying them (because let’s face it, when young athletes get a little money, they buy houses and cars and boats and whatever else there inexperienced hearts desire). As a viewing public, we only see the success stories. But there are many, many more athletes who fail.
For the most part, forgoing a college education and opting to become a professional athlete is a risky move. The probability of succes is minimal. Just ask any statistician. (You can’t ask the players themselves because most of them don’t stay in school long enough to learn about statistics.)
So, should there be an age requirement in sports. I don’t think so. Limiting a person’s rights by telling him or her what to do is wrong. But the fact that there is no rule stating that a young athlete has to stay in school does not mean that leaving school is the right thing to do. Somehow, someone needs to enlighten young athletes about the realities and rigors of life. Remember, professional sports aren’t going anywhere. Stay in school and get an education! Waiting an extra couple years is worth it. Leaving school prematurely and risking your future is not.