Saturday, March 27, 2010

Basketball, politics and a little Sketchiness

So Arne Duncan (at right, practicing his Oh-so-Superior "White Boy Intellectual Who Knows Better than You" look) is still making noise about the basketball players who don't graduate from college and ruin the US Way of Life because they aren't focused on an education, like he was.

I'm sorry that his dream of "College is an Academic Utopia" and of "Amateur Athletics" is being kicked in the shins, but to pick on basketball is silly. College athletes are not all academically inclined, but they ARE getting the "real-life" training they need to be successful in life. Isn't that the point?

It's time the Education Secretary stopped being so idiotic. These basketball players, at least the "One-and-Done" players, wouldn't be there if the NCAA and NBA and NFL didn't force them to pretend to getting an education.
more below:

  • If we didn't have this "Everyone Should Go To College" mindset, we wouldn't have this issue.
  • If the TV contracts were less than $545M/year ($6 Billion/11years) for March Madness ALONE, we probably wouldn't have this problem. Even the individual schools and conferences have deals. The SEC signed a 15-year deal with ESPN worth more than $2 billion to televise sporting events, including football and men's and women's basketball -- that's 13 schools' regular seasons, $10M per year per school. Oh yeah, the kids are not paid a salary, they're "paid in education value."
  • If we didn't have a pro league and the NCAA actively colluding to keep athletes in college so the schools could continue to rake in TV money, we wouldn't have this problem.
  • If basketball players were predominately white, how long would this last?
The NFL and NBA, for which a large percentage of the rookies are black, imposes an age limit of HS Graduation plus 1 year, effectively 19. This basically requires the kids who want to get a job right after high school to wait around for a year before they are allowed to work in the field they excel in. They cannot come out early. They cannot drop out of school at 16 and go get a job, at least not one in the NBA.

This isn't true elsewhere.

Golf (mostly white and Asian kids) doesn't seem to have a minimum age. Michelle Wie turned pro at 15. 14 year olds Isabelle Beisigal and Kimberly Kim played at the highest levels. It is assumed that they will get schooling of some kind and maybe go to college like Tiger did, but they are still allowed to be a pro. At the men's pro level, Tiger is the only black player of 156 is US Championship last year.

Tennis, with notable exceptions, is a white person's sport and used to be filled with 14 year old girls, until they imposed a 16 year old age limit. Specifically, players ranked in the top 100 in 1995 turned professional at a mean age of 15.2 years. That is MEAN age. You do the math. Interestingly, the Williams sisters started at 18 and people criticized their father for it.

Hockey is similar. The players in the Canadian WHL, OHL and QMJHL are all under 21 years of age with a minimum age (in all but extreme cases) of 16. This doesn't seem to be a problem. (NHL is at least 95% white.)

Soccer? "Can you play at this level?" seems to be the only criteria. Freddy Ado was 14 when he turned pro. British Premier League and Serie A and others limit pro contracts to 16 or 17.

Baseball has higher "standards" than golf, tennis or hockey. MLB limits the kids to when their HS class graduates, effectively 18. But at least the kid can go right from HS to the pros. Few of the kids who turn pro at this age are interested in further school - they are simply working at a job after high school.

Baseball (MLB: White: 60% * Black: 8%* Hispanic: 29% * Asian: 3%)
Football (NFL: White: 31% * Black: 66% * Hispanic: 1% * Asian: 2%)
Soccer (MLS: White: 59% * Black: 22% * Hispanic: 14% * Asian: 1%)
Basketball (NBA: White: 20% * Black: 76% * Hispanic: 3% * Asian: 1%)
Hockey (NHL: I’ll venture a guess the NHL is over 95% white.)
Tennis (Approx: White 90% * Black 8% * Hispanic: 1% * Asian: 1%)
Golf (PGA: White 99+% * Cablanasian (Tiger): 1)

Coincidence? I don't think so. If the percentages were different, lawsuits would have been filed.

What about the non-sport people?

TV and movie employment can start at very early ages. Years ago, I had a movie kid "in Calculus" while he was away in California making three hit movies. He was "allowed" to make money since he was 14. He continues to make millions.

Military enlistment minimums are 17 with parental consent and 18 otherwise.

Federal child labor laws:
* Set the minimum "legal" work age at 14 for most types of employment
* Prohibit employing youths under 18 in dangerous jobs
* Limit the daily and weekly work hours for employees under the age of 16

Apparently, the NBA is a more dangerous job than the government's definition of a "dangerous job."

Get off the horse, Arne. Eliminate the NCAA and its money-grubbing tendencies and you'll see your precious college Utopian dreams realized. College sports will again be secondary to the ideal ivy-covered life and the nation will rejoice in having its holidays back. No one will miss the New Year's football or March Madness or anything else.

And I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. It was willed to me when my Uncle died. Cheap.

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