Crafted Sports Report: Where’s the Focus?

By Chris Craft
Updated: May 31, 2006

ATLANTA, GEORGIA—At the age of 23, Kobe Bryant became the youngest NBA player to win 3 championships. This is a great and honorable feat, but it would not have been possible if Mr. Bryant had attended college. Most people say that he was mature and was ready for the league as a teenager, I guess. I think our country is losing the focus on the things that really matter for the building of a stronger society. Many 23 year old men and women are just finishing graduate school or receiving their second degree from their double major; but it’s silly to give light to academic success, right?

Athletes are getting younger, bigger, faster, and less concerned with receiving an education. The main culprit in this evil is the NBA. Every year I discuss with my friends about that one collegiate player that “better leave school now before his stock drops.” This is horrible for the simple fact that I personally would never want to be denied my right to receive an education. What is a young ball player to do when he sees other high school players drafted before a college player strictly on potential? Let me break the news to you fellas’, THE NBA DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOU. The colleges and universities were the NBA jock factories and now the high schools are becoming larger jock factories in its place. The new millennium parent has a hell of a job if their son is a highly sought after athlete. The television creates the visual of the glorified young athlete with all the new and cool clothes, drinking the “cool” beverages, and these images are engraved in the minds of the youth. Natural development of good ol’ ambition has no chance anymore. Don’t let me get on those horrible “And 1” video cassettes.

On the subject of student-athlete education, there’s more classroom and testing scandals going on in these colleges and high schools today than any other time in my life. Let me borrow some words from Mr. Buck Belue, “quit frontin’.” These head coaches know what’s going on, or maybe they don’t. Maybe they don’t know that their players are physical specimens, but mental idiots. Maybe the parents don’t do their jobs, but high school and college coaches must step in and essentially be parents to their young budding superstars. This does not apply to every college of course. Coach K. at Duke stresses the classroom and maybe a few others; but for the most part, we all know that the books aren’t that much of a priority. If you’ve read my other editorials, it always comes down to “questioning what you value.” Let’s bring some truth back to the word “student-athlete.”

Get used to hearing a new LeBron James story every year. Get used to seeing your neighborhood 11 year old practicing the new trick dribble seen on the new “And 1” tape instead of studying. Get used to seeing our youth value and settle for having the new big body SUV instead of having a conscious on world issues. I respect sports’ entertainment value and the positive economic benefits for the families of these young players, team staff, and team management. At the same time, let’s also stress that having a brain on your shoulders ultimately garners more social respect than having a killer jump shot. Because when the sports career comes to an end, all the slacking in school and being carried through the system will quickly be exposed.