RIP to college basketball.
The sport I grew up knowing and loving will be laid to rest today when the vote is upheld to allow players to have one, penalty-free, transfer during their college career.
Now look, don’t waste your breath trying to ‘educate’ me on how this will help the players, thinking that I’m some simpleton who hasn’t looked hard at the pros and cons of this stance.
For the record, I’m for college players making a little money (and having it kept in an account that matures when they’re actual adults) for playing college ball. I know the arguments there too.
Some say that the kids get a free education and that should be good enough, and you know what, with the cost of college these days, that argument has merit. But if this is your stance, then you’re looking at the problem through a narrow lens.
See, the NBA, while acting like a friendly big brother to college basketball on the outside, has declared all-out war on the NCAA behind the scenes with their new spin on the G-League. College basketball used to just have to worry about one or two elite 5-star kids going pro after a year of prep. Now they are incentivizing kids to skip college altogether and get paid whether they’re on an NBA roster or not. They are using it as a springboard, butting in on the niche that college basketball used to own. So if you don’t realize the real threat right now, it’s going to be too late when you finally do.
Look, I’m not some anti-player’s rights activist here, but this transfer rule takes it too far.
For those who missed Vonwolf’s article on this topic. Give it a read. But the gist is, players will be able to transfer one time during the course of their eligibility. No sitting out a year. No having to get schools to approve. If they want to leave, they can just leave.
I’m guessing that if you’ve clicked this article then, more likely than not, you’ve played some sort of organized sport. And if you’ve played organized sports, then more likely than not, you’ve got a story of how sports helped you learn something about life.
Sport is a very tangible, low-stakes way to learn life lessons.
If you’ve ever had a coach worth their weight in salt, then you’ve learned that hard work pays off. You’ve learned that you may be more capable than you realized. You’ve learned how to deal with adversity. How to dust yourself off after a loss and get better because of it.
Learning how to compete. Learning how to win and lose. Learning how to come together as a team to achieve a goal. These are all lessons that sports can teach you, that will one day pay off in the real world.
A basketball player’s earning window is small. Most guys are done playing by the time they’re in their early 30s (if they’re lucky). And then it’s on to the real world. A world where no one cares how well you can shoot, or how high you can jump. A world where you’re now 30 and you’re prior work experience is non-existent. Your ability to succeed is going to be directly tied to the lessons you learned from sport.
The quickest way to learn, and the most lasting lessons come from dealing with adversity. Learning how to overcome obstacles. Learning that the world doesn’t revolve around you, and for you to succeed you need to work harder than the guy next to you.
So what the hell are we teaching these 18 and 19-year-olds about life if we let them walk away, penalty-free from adversity.
Coach is mean. I’m leaving.
Coach didn’t play me enough. Seeya.
Coach didn’t let me shoot enough. I’m out.
My team isn’t that great on paper next year. Bu-Bye!
Gimme a break.
Hey old timers, if you thought the millennials were soft, wait till you get a load of Gen Z. This generation has killed off the coach who preaches discipline. They’ve canceled just about any coach who wants to tell it like it is. And now, they’ve got the keys to the kingdom. Treat them with white gloves, or they’re gonna walk. 3 years of recruiting. 3 years of traveling to watch their games. Telling other kids they can’t come because you have a commitment from this kid.
Coaches are about to be held hostage. And go ahead and say what you’re thinking: “Cry me a river Joey. They guys are making millions.”
Yeah, they are. They are well compensated. But most have families and this is how they feed them. They are on the road half the year recruiting, and the other half they are almost always in the gym with their team. And if you’re looking for job security, this isn’t the field for you. A few bad seasons and you’re toast. Oh and those bad seasons, you may have no control over most of those outcomes. These coaches’ careers are in the hands of 18 and 19-year-olds. Does that sound fun? There are almost no guarantee in this job, and the stability you HAD, with the ability to at least pretty much know your roster for the next few years, is now being taken away.
So, you know what, I know I said in the title “Change my mind,” but save it. I’VE changed my mind. I don’t want your rebuttal. I’m dying on this hill.
Now that you’re all riled up and ready to ignore my direction to ‘save it’, I know what comes next. Here comes the moving of the goalposts. The shifting of the argument. The false dichotomy.
“Coaches can just up and leave and players can’t. Coaches have all the power. We have to do this to even the playing field.”
Wrong. Well, right AND wrong.
Coaches can just up and leave without penalty. It’s a business. I’m not debating that. But to immediately jump to some blanket rule where now 18 and 19-year-olds can just up and leave is a weak response.
If a coach leaves or gets fired. Then let the kid leave without penalty. Fine. Why isn’t that the rule we’re discussing? Why are we just opening the door to kids throwing a temper tantrum over playing time and leaving? Hey, they decided to come play for this coach, so if this coach is still there, then you can leave, but you have to sit a year.
THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES TO DECISIONS. Let’s let these kids learn about decision-making. Let them learn a lesson on sniffing out bullsh*t when being sold something. If you let them run away from their decisions and get free passes, then you are taking away a vital benefit of competitive sport. Character building.
So, go ahead NCAA. Pass your rule. And all you who hate this take, you think I care? Just don’t cry me a freakin’ river when your team is in a constant state of flux because you’ve enabled the softest generation to dictate the landscape of your favorite sport.