Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bill Rhoden gets it badly wrong

with his fevered obeisance to to the bizarre god of a college education. He praises Joe Dumars to the skies for going back and getting his college degree last month and makes him into a role model for all the up and coming young'uns who don't care at all about college. This is strange in several ways. First Dumars went to college for 4 years. He could have graduated in that time. He didn't leave school early and presumably he didn't have too many credits to go for his degree. Second, Joe Dumars is one of the top 5 executives in all of sports. He didn't need a college degree to do his job better than almost anyone else. The true message of the Joe Dumars saga is "don't sweat getting a degree"!!! Third, Joe got his sheepskin via internet classes. I have to be brutally honest here: that is code for saying Joe didn't have to do much work or learn very much to get those credits. Sure there may be some exceptions but e-learning is an oxymoron on par with jumbo shrimp and military intelligence.

Rhoden then tries to apply his version of the lesson from Dumars to the young'uns:

In the N.B.A. draft on Thursday, college freshmen made up the first three picks for the first time. Five of the first seven players selected were freshmen, also a first.

The N.B.A. can spin that any way it pleases, but it exposes a disconnect. Most of these young players, forced to attend college because of the N.B.A.’s minimum age requirement (19) and its condition that eligible players be at least a year removed from high school, are not close to graduating and probably aren’t thinking about going back.

One year in college isn’t the answer either, and a growing number of people inside the lawyer-run N.B.A. know it.

They know, as Dumars came to understand, that it’s fine to have photo ops in which players read books to young people. But how can you preach the value of an education if you don’t value it enough to return to college to finish what you began?

Beginning immediately, scrupulous agents should insist that as a condition of taking them on as clients, athletes should be willing to take courses toward a degree within three years of signing their first contract.

Commissioner David Stern was ferocious in the pursuit of a minimum-age limit. If the N.B.A. really cares about the long-term welfare of its young incoming athletes, it will push for a rule that makes young players move without the ball toward a degree.

Call it the Dumars rule: better late than never at all.

He is actually calling for mandatory post-secondary continuing education for all non-degreed NBA players! Could there be a weirder and less necessary cause to get fired up about? And why? I guess so the league won't seem hypocritical when it runs pro education PSAs and to protect young players from exploitation?

To protect players, how about the NBA licensing agents, or having mandatory financial planning classes for rookies. In terms of the league currently being hypocritical in preaching education, has our public school system fallen so far that literacy requires a college degree? Really?

1 comment:

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