High School Athletes becoming Professionals
Lebron James, who is the so-called next Michael Jordan, and Freddy Adu, the American soccer phenomenon, both have something in common. They are professional athletes and with millions in their pockets with a countless number of endorsement contracts. Whether it is high school athletes skipping college and discontinuing the development of their education for millions of dollars, or teenagers signing contracts with businesses for massive amounts of money, youth sports programs are changing rapidly. However, American high school athletes are not financially, physically, or mentally prepared to tackle and endure the pressures of professional sports. Society today allows fourteen to eighteen-year-old athletes to make millions of dollars and eventually become stars. From Lebron James, signing with Nike for ninety million dollars before even stepping on the court, to Freddy Adu, signing with Major League Soccer to be the youngest professional to ever sign a contract in United States history, teenagers of today are changing. Freddy Adu is the youngest player on a major league team since Fred Chapman was fourteen years old and played baseball for Philadelphia in 1887. Adu, born in Ghana, signed with the MLS to play for D.C. United in 2003. He and his family moved to Potomac, Maryland in 1997 and he eventually became a United States citizen in 2002. He signed with Nike for one million dollars in 2000, becoming the youngest professional to sign an endorsement deal with Nike. Greg Couch, a writer for the Sun Times states, "Are we ready for this? Because if Freddy Adu makes it big, then the battle to save little things like fun and imagination in youth sports is gone." He is absolutely right. What happened to the main reason to play sports- have fun? These young children won't understand fun after being demanded, day in and day out, from the most rigorous coaches to perform to a level they have not been exposed to yet. They haven't been exposed to that level because they skipped the most important part of their life and career, and that is college. In rare cases, there's one athlete that comes along and is very special. Sappenfield of The Christian Science Monitor says, "In some instances, they are truly unique athletes. In others, they are simply the products of a new and hyper-competitive youth-sports system, lured to big-time athletics by bad advice and the prospect of outlandish wealth and rock star glory" (Sappenfield 1). Kids, not exposed to the rest of society outside athletics, do not know how to live and support themselves, except that of college students in a way. Millions of dollars in their pockets could be a dangerous idea. They may not be able to withstand the pressures of professional sports and spend all their money on drugs and alcohol. What they do not understand is that once they are in that spotlight, there is no turning back. Young athletes are exciting to see in professional sports, but it makes you think of what they actually went through and handle in everyday life as a teenager. In addition, Isamu Bae says "Professional scouts must attempt to decipher the maturity level of players, and for athletes in their teens, it is nearly impossible to figure out." Growing up, the time a child would have playing with his friends or going to the movies, would not be there like for any normal kid. They made the sacrifice to play sports rather than have a social life and be a regular kid. Marty Blake and other NBA scouts said, "No high school player belongs in the NBA" (Unknown 1). They don't have the body type or mental strength to withstand night-in, night out beatings by bigger and faster people than them. Getting your education should be your first and most important priority in life. Scholarships and other academic money will help you learn things that you will never learn in your life. College ends up tapping into your outside sports life and lets you learn there are...
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