Monday, May 4, 2009

What is education really?

The sports media is all abuzz that Jeremy Tyler, one of the best high school hoopsters in the country, has decided to forgo his senior year of high school and play ball in Europe for big money instead. The empty chattering heads on ESPN yesterday all thought this is a horrible thing....he will miss his prom (I didn't go to mine!), he won't have a high school degree, he will miss that important one year he would otherwise spend playing in college to make other people rich. What they really mean is, "Oh, No, he is upsetting the US basketball monopoly".

Think back to your senior year in high school. Did you learn much in class? Would you likely have learned more from, say, working in a foreign country? In fact, wouldn't it be beneficial to most Americans to spend some time abroad, learning to understand the rest of the world? We might make fewer dumb foreign policy errors if we knew a bit more about others. Is someone really trying to tell us that learning another culture and language has less value than sleeping through 4th period English Lit?

And, this kid has obviously got the skills and the interest to make basketball his career. Where is he going to learn more: playing against pros or kicking the crap out of high shcolers half his size, the dominating inferior competition in college for a year?

I obviously think there is great value to formal education, or I wouldn't be teaching. But it is certainly not for everyone. Tyler is going to learn far more about both life and basketball by going abroad and playing, particularly if he has a tough time over there. And he's going to be paid for it. I don't see how this can possibly be a bad move for him. When he is drafted into the NBA in 2 years, he will be a far more educated person and player than those who took the traditional route.

What the people here who say this is awful really don't want to see is our current monopoly system crumble. If kids find out they have options other than a year of making a college coach rich, this could ruin the whole plantation system of big time college sports. And wouldn't that be a shame for all those who profit big from "March Madness"......none of them players, of course!


Budd Bailey said...

As Robert Klein said when Herschel Walker left Georgia early to turn pro and make a zillion dollars from the USFL, "How's he going to make a living without a degree?"

Becky said...

I'm pretty sure I read about this kid a few weeks ago, and I think there were concerns about how totally immature he is. Maybe being overseas will help him focus and grow a bit.