Monday, March 23, 2009

Leaving Early: Mind your own fucking business.

Now that the Terrapins' basketball season is over, it's time for the speculation to start on leaving early. This season's subject is the star of the team, junior Greivis Vasquez. We've been through Steve Francis, Chris Wilcox, John Gilchrest, and now Vasquez. And every year, just like virtually every other college basketball program, people keep cropping up to say why some kid should stay in school.

To all those people: Fuck you.

Greivis, if you're out there, do what you want to do. You don't owe the university another year. No college player does. For some reason, people don't want to treat you like a human being who has a family and a pile of bills just like every other human being. People want to treat you like you owe them something. You don't.

The argument is always that a kid needs an education to fall back on, but really it's people sticking their nose in other peoples' business. There are a bunch of kids playing college ball who could go play in the D-League or in Europe somewhere and get a paycheck and help their family out. Hell, I'm a junior right now, and I'd jump to the pros if I could, even though being a professional journalist won't earn me that much. How are we supposed to tell kids that can go to Europe and make six figures playing basketball that they're supposed to spend another year at school? Basketball won't always be there for them. They have to take advantage. It just makes sense. You would too if it was you.

If a kid thinks he can latch on with an NBA team, he's looking at seven figures. Now think about a kid playing college ball, who could play another year and help his draft stock and maybe make a lot more money down the road, or who could jump now and help his family out. Anyone who would argue that the kid should stay in school is forgetting that while the NBA can wait, the bills can't. The relatives that need medical care can't. The parents, the sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews. If you need the money and someone's offering it, you take it. Simple as that.

Steve Rushin, who was my favorite sports columnist growing up, wrote a piece one time on (I think) Al McGuire. And he said some kid jumped to the NBA from Marquette early, and this was during a time when nobody jumped early, so he got a lot of crap for it. The media came up and they asked Al, "What's the big idea? What is wrong with this kid?" And Rushin wrote something like, "Al said, 'I looked in my fridge and it was full. I looked in his fridge, and it was empty.'"

Kids can come back to college and finish their degrees. Sometimes they can't put a big salary on hold for a year. Because these kids are real people with real lives and they have to take care of theirs.

So if you've still got a problem with that, ask yourself: At 20 years old with a family to help, would you pass up the paycheck?

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