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
Cited: Keller, Mandy. Bylaw Article 12: Amateurism. July 2003. The National Collegiate Athletic Association. 9 Apr. 2005 . Satterfield, Kathryn R. Ready For The Big League. Vol. 9 No. 8. 7 Nov. 2003. Time For Kids. 9 Apr. 2005 . Going Pro Early. A Game-Official Website of Smart Athletics. 9 Apr. 2005 . Head to Head. 9 Apr. 2005 . Your Take: Freddy Adu. 20 Nov. 2003. ESPN Soccernet. 10 Apr. 2005 .