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Basketball

LaVar Ball’s basketball league is a bad idea

For all but a handful of future pros, college is smarter than short money

5:47 PMLaVar Ball’s proposed pro basketball league for high school graduates is like those shoes that are supposed to increase your vertical: Looks good, but a bad idea for almost everyone. Instead, let’s fix college basketball so it provides a real education for athletes. That would be worth much more, long term, than what Ball is offering to pay these kids.

Sure, I understand why the idea is attractive on the surface. Just ask all those geniuses on Twitter: College ballplayers already get fake educations, so dispense with the sham off the rip. One-and-done players such as Ben Simmons or Derrick Rose are only there for a few months, so give them a paying alternative. The NCAA and colleges are making billions off these kids, so why not fight the power, support a black-owned business and let players get that paper?

This is short-term thinking. It relies on the misplaced belief that Ball’s proposed salary of $3,000 to $10,000 per month would do more good for a player than a real college education. And it succumbs to the problems of NCAA sports rather than confronting them.

Here’s my biggest problem, though, as a black man who loves basketball and my people: Ball’s proposal would have an especially negative effect on the black community — which already places a disproportionate emphasis on sports over education.

To truly gauge the impact of this proposal, let’s remove the one-and-dones from the equation. Those dozen players will be fine. They’ve basically been pros since middle school anyway, getting free everything (and often cold cash) from AAU coaches. Although I do think they would benefit from the opportunity to mature, study, grow and learn in college, I can’t argue with their decisions to get those NBA millions.

But a league for high school graduates would discourage education for thousands of other kids. There are more than 500,000 boys playing high school basketball right now. About 499,999 of them want to play Division I hoops. Only 1 percent of them will make it. Only 4 percent will play college ball on any level. Despite these long odds, and despite the fact that there are more college opportunities for kids with high grades than high verticals, thousands of families pour most of their time, focus and energy into basketball, chasing a scholarship that will never come. Especially black families. If a semipro league for high school graduates is an option, even more kids will place even less emphasis on education.

Let’s say a kid does secure one of the 80 roster spots in Ball’s league. A few will reach the NBA — but they would have made it there anyway under the current system. Anybody with NBA potential can grab a college scholarship somewhere, grades or nah. For those who play for Ball and don’t make the league, then what? Will they have saved the $100,000 to $300,000 to pay for the college education they could have gotten for free? Let’s say they played overseas — and that bag ain’t all it’s cracked up to be — will these grown men want to attend classes with kids? Not likely. Which makes a postbasketball career, and the skills needed for that career to flourish, harder to obtain.

Most importantly, though, I’m troubled by my community’s disproportionate focus on sports over education. It’s borderline unhealthy and long-term foolish. Walk through any ’hood and ask 10 kids what they plan to be when they grow up. About eight will say an NBA or NFL player. I’ve seen dads working out 10-year-olds at 10 on school nights. A Philly high school principal friend of mine recently asked one of his students what he planned to do for college. Play football, the kid said. Problem was, he wasn’t on his high school team. The reasons for these unrealistic hopes should be obvious.

The saving grace of our obsession is that it points us toward college. That’s problematic in itself because big-money NCAA sports are broken, and too many athletes don’t get real educations. I’ve long argued that we should improve education for athletes, instead of thinking money, like Ball’s chump change, is the solution.

Nobody loves basketball more than me. (I can use bad grammar on purpose because I have my college degree.) I understand the allure of giving the finger to an exploitative NCAA system and rocking with the brash brother from Compton, California. But don’t let the flash and cash fool you. For all but a handful of sure-shot stars, the long-term benefits of college basketball are far greater than LaVar Ball’s short money.

Daily Dose: 12/19/17

Kendrick Lamar is about to rock the college football world

5:47 PMLaVar Ball’s proposed pro basketball league for high school graduates is like those shoes that are supposed to increase your vertical: Looks good, but a bad idea for almost everyone. Instead, let’s fix college basketball so it provides a real education for athletes. That would be worth much more, long term, than what Ball is offering to pay these kids.

Sure, I understand why the idea is attractive on the surface. Just ask all those geniuses on Twitter: College ballplayers already get fake educations, so dispense with the sham off the rip. One-and-done players such as Ben Simmons or Derrick Rose are only there for a few months, so give them a paying alternative. The NCAA and colleges are making billions off these kids, so why not fight the power, support a black-owned business and let players get that paper?

This is short-term thinking. It relies on the misplaced belief that Ball’s proposed salary of $3,000 to $10,000 per month would do more good for a player than a real college education. And it succumbs to the problems of NCAA sports rather than confronting them.

Here’s my biggest problem, though, as a black man who loves basketball and my people: Ball’s proposal would have an especially negative effect on the black community — which already places a disproportionate emphasis on sports over education.

To truly gauge the impact of this proposal, let’s remove the one-and-dones from the equation. Those dozen players will be fine. They’ve basically been pros since middle school anyway, getting free everything (and often cold cash) from AAU coaches. Although I do think they would benefit from the opportunity to mature, study, grow and learn in college, I can’t argue with their decisions to get those NBA millions.

But a league for high school graduates would discourage education for thousands of other kids. There are more than 500,000 boys playing high school basketball right now. About 499,999 of them want to play Division I hoops. Only 1 percent of them will make it. Only 4 percent will play college ball on any level. Despite these long odds, and despite the fact that there are more college opportunities for kids with high grades than high verticals, thousands of families pour most of their time, focus and energy into basketball, chasing a scholarship that will never come. Especially black families. If a semipro league for high school graduates is an option, even more kids will place even less emphasis on education.

Let’s say a kid does secure one of the 80 roster spots in Ball’s league. A few will reach the NBA — but they would have made it there anyway under the current system. Anybody with NBA potential can grab a college scholarship somewhere, grades or nah. For those who play for Ball and don’t make the league, then what? Will they have saved the $100,000 to $300,000 to pay for the college education they could have gotten for free? Let’s say they played overseas — and that bag ain’t all it’s cracked up to be — will these grown men want to attend classes with kids? Not likely. Which makes a postbasketball career, and the skills needed for that career to flourish, harder to obtain.

Most importantly, though, I’m troubled by my community’s disproportionate focus on sports over education. It’s borderline unhealthy and long-term foolish. Walk through any ’hood and ask 10 kids what they plan to be when they grow up. About eight will say an NBA or NFL player. I’ve seen dads working out 10-year-olds at 10 on school nights. A Philly high school principal friend of mine recently asked one of his students what he planned to do for college. Play football, the kid said. Problem was, he wasn’t on his high school team. The reasons for these unrealistic hopes should be obvious.

The saving grace of our obsession is that it points us toward college. That’s problematic in itself because big-money NCAA sports are broken, and too many athletes don’t get real educations. I’ve long argued that we should improve education for athletes, instead of thinking money, like Ball’s chump change, is the solution.

Nobody loves basketball more than me. (I can use bad grammar on purpose because I have my college degree.) I understand the allure of giving the finger to an exploitative NCAA system and rocking with the brash brother from Compton, California. But don’t let the flash and cash fool you. For all but a handful of sure-shot stars, the long-term benefits of college basketball are far greater than LaVar Ball’s short money.

Daily Dose: 12/18/17

Diddy wants to buy the ‘North’ Carolina Panthers

5:47 PMLaVar Ball’s proposed pro basketball league for high school graduates is like those shoes that are supposed to increase your vertical: Looks good, but a bad idea for almost everyone. Instead, let’s fix college basketball so it provides a real education for athletes. That would be worth much more, long term, than what Ball is offering to pay these kids.

Sure, I understand why the idea is attractive on the surface. Just ask all those geniuses on Twitter: College ballplayers already get fake educations, so dispense with the sham off the rip. One-and-done players such as Ben Simmons or Derrick Rose are only there for a few months, so give them a paying alternative. The NCAA and colleges are making billions off these kids, so why not fight the power, support a black-owned business and let players get that paper?

This is short-term thinking. It relies on the misplaced belief that Ball’s proposed salary of $3,000 to $10,000 per month would do more good for a player than a real college education. And it succumbs to the problems of NCAA sports rather than confronting them.

Here’s my biggest problem, though, as a black man who loves basketball and my people: Ball’s proposal would have an especially negative effect on the black community — which already places a disproportionate emphasis on sports over education.

To truly gauge the impact of this proposal, let’s remove the one-and-dones from the equation. Those dozen players will be fine. They’ve basically been pros since middle school anyway, getting free everything (and often cold cash) from AAU coaches. Although I do think they would benefit from the opportunity to mature, study, grow and learn in college, I can’t argue with their decisions to get those NBA millions.

But a league for high school graduates would discourage education for thousands of other kids. There are more than 500,000 boys playing high school basketball right now. About 499,999 of them want to play Division I hoops. Only 1 percent of them will make it. Only 4 percent will play college ball on any level. Despite these long odds, and despite the fact that there are more college opportunities for kids with high grades than high verticals, thousands of families pour most of their time, focus and energy into basketball, chasing a scholarship that will never come. Especially black families. If a semipro league for high school graduates is an option, even more kids will place even less emphasis on education.

Let’s say a kid does secure one of the 80 roster spots in Ball’s league. A few will reach the NBA — but they would have made it there anyway under the current system. Anybody with NBA potential can grab a college scholarship somewhere, grades or nah. For those who play for Ball and don’t make the league, then what? Will they have saved the $100,000 to $300,000 to pay for the college education they could have gotten for free? Let’s say they played overseas — and that bag ain’t all it’s cracked up to be — will these grown men want to attend classes with kids? Not likely. Which makes a postbasketball career, and the skills needed for that career to flourish, harder to obtain.

Most importantly, though, I’m troubled by my community’s disproportionate focus on sports over education. It’s borderline unhealthy and long-term foolish. Walk through any ’hood and ask 10 kids what they plan to be when they grow up. About eight will say an NBA or NFL player. I’ve seen dads working out 10-year-olds at 10 on school nights. A Philly high school principal friend of mine recently asked one of his students what he planned to do for college. Play football, the kid said. Problem was, he wasn’t on his high school team. The reasons for these unrealistic hopes should be obvious.

The saving grace of our obsession is that it points us toward college. That’s problematic in itself because big-money NCAA sports are broken, and too many athletes don’t get real educations. I’ve long argued that we should improve education for athletes, instead of thinking money, like Ball’s chump change, is the solution.

Nobody loves basketball more than me. (I can use bad grammar on purpose because I have my college degree.) I understand the allure of giving the finger to an exploitative NCAA system and rocking with the brash brother from Compton, California. But don’t let the flash and cash fool you. For all but a handful of sure-shot stars, the long-term benefits of college basketball are far greater than LaVar Ball’s short money.

Daily Dose: 12/15/17

Black Thought is God’s gift to hip-hop fans this Christmas

5:47 PMLaVar Ball’s proposed pro basketball league for high school graduates is like those shoes that are supposed to increase your vertical: Looks good, but a bad idea for almost everyone. Instead, let’s fix college basketball so it provides a real education for athletes. That would be worth much more, long term, than what Ball is offering to pay these kids.

Sure, I understand why the idea is attractive on the surface. Just ask all those geniuses on Twitter: College ballplayers already get fake educations, so dispense with the sham off the rip. One-and-done players such as Ben Simmons or Derrick Rose are only there for a few months, so give them a paying alternative. The NCAA and colleges are making billions off these kids, so why not fight the power, support a black-owned business and let players get that paper?

This is short-term thinking. It relies on the misplaced belief that Ball’s proposed salary of $3,000 to $10,000 per month would do more good for a player than a real college education. And it succumbs to the problems of NCAA sports rather than confronting them.

Here’s my biggest problem, though, as a black man who loves basketball and my people: Ball’s proposal would have an especially negative effect on the black community — which already places a disproportionate emphasis on sports over education.

To truly gauge the impact of this proposal, let’s remove the one-and-dones from the equation. Those dozen players will be fine. They’ve basically been pros since middle school anyway, getting free everything (and often cold cash) from AAU coaches. Although I do think they would benefit from the opportunity to mature, study, grow and learn in college, I can’t argue with their decisions to get those NBA millions.

But a league for high school graduates would discourage education for thousands of other kids. There are more than 500,000 boys playing high school basketball right now. About 499,999 of them want to play Division I hoops. Only 1 percent of them will make it. Only 4 percent will play college ball on any level. Despite these long odds, and despite the fact that there are more college opportunities for kids with high grades than high verticals, thousands of families pour most of their time, focus and energy into basketball, chasing a scholarship that will never come. Especially black families. If a semipro league for high school graduates is an option, even more kids will place even less emphasis on education.

Let’s say a kid does secure one of the 80 roster spots in Ball’s league. A few will reach the NBA — but they would have made it there anyway under the current system. Anybody with NBA potential can grab a college scholarship somewhere, grades or nah. For those who play for Ball and don’t make the league, then what? Will they have saved the $100,000 to $300,000 to pay for the college education they could have gotten for free? Let’s say they played overseas — and that bag ain’t all it’s cracked up to be — will these grown men want to attend classes with kids? Not likely. Which makes a postbasketball career, and the skills needed for that career to flourish, harder to obtain.

Most importantly, though, I’m troubled by my community’s disproportionate focus on sports over education. It’s borderline unhealthy and long-term foolish. Walk through any ’hood and ask 10 kids what they plan to be when they grow up. About eight will say an NBA or NFL player. I’ve seen dads working out 10-year-olds at 10 on school nights. A Philly high school principal friend of mine recently asked one of his students what he planned to do for college. Play football, the kid said. Problem was, he wasn’t on his high school team. The reasons for these unrealistic hopes should be obvious.

The saving grace of our obsession is that it points us toward college. That’s problematic in itself because big-money NCAA sports are broken, and too many athletes don’t get real educations. I’ve long argued that we should improve education for athletes, instead of thinking money, like Ball’s chump change, is the solution.

Nobody loves basketball more than me. (I can use bad grammar on purpose because I have my college degree.) I understand the allure of giving the finger to an exploitative NCAA system and rocking with the brash brother from Compton, California. But don’t let the flash and cash fool you. For all but a handful of sure-shot stars, the long-term benefits of college basketball are far greater than LaVar Ball’s short money.