I’m not sure if any of you were aware of this, but former NBA star Latrell Sprewell’s home was recently foreclosed. Apparently, his rims business owes money, he’s way behind on his mortgage and, well, the man’s broke. Sprewell is also known for turning down 14 million a few years ago because, as he claimed, he “can’t feed his family on that.” A bit off-topic, future NBA star OJ Mayo is currently being scrutinized for accepting money while in high school and college from “friends” who supposedly work for his prospective future agents.
With Mayo’s story, it’s not really that surprising, especially when you consider the fact that he signed up at USC without even taking a tour of the school. With Sprewell, it’s either really well implemented karma, really bad luck, or fucking funny depending on your own outlook. When I read about Latrell Sprewell being broke, I realized how poorly the NBA (and pro sports in general) prepare their young for being rich and famous. And when I read about OJ Mayo, I thought of how silly college sports are and how they treat and view the students who are also athletes.
So, I decided that doing is better than talking about it. You can go to EPSN.com to check out everyone’s opinions; you can find ones to agree with and ones to bicker over. In lieu of that, I’m here to bring forth change. That’s right, I’ve got a plan for college kids like OJ Mayo so they don’t end up Like Latrell Sprewell. I have come to the conclusion that the most obvious thing a major sports college should do is have all their athletes major in being a famous athlete.
Every NCAA tournament I have ever seen featured the same vignette: they will show the star of the team, bringing the ball up the court after making a great play, and the commentators will do the kid’s bio in five seconds, and they always mention his major. And that major could possibly reflect the student’s genuine interest and ambition, always screams “this kid knows about taking the path of least resistance.” Foreign Languages. English. Business. All of which are legit majors, and all of which are broad enough to suggest that that kid could be biding his time in easy, nondescript classes, keeping that GPA level and making the school boatloads of cash. Can the students be intelligent and have a great major while excelling at their sport? Of course. How often does this happen? Not often enough if it makes me want to come up with a theory about majoring in famous.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. Some of these kids go to these schools because they want to go pro. They choose the school with a good coach, a good team, and a high profile. They major in classes that are dead easy and sometimes the school is crooked enough to let them slide through. The sad part is is that most of these athletes come out of poverty, are looked at as the golden hope within their families and then are put in a position they are not ready for, because they haven’t been educated for it.
The idea of the student-athlete is laughable and the concept of teaching these kids about everything BUT the job they wish to get is insane. If a kid is going to college to play professional sports at one point, then he or she must be prepared to eventually live within the scope of fame, money and pressure that they will experience if they go pro.
Here’s the gimmick: if you’re a highly recruited athlete and you get that scholarship to go to a big school and you know full well that you’re leaving in two years to go pro, then you must enroll in my new curriculum, “Being a Famous Athlete in the 21st Century.” Here is the syllabus:
A two-year curriculum (for the NBA), four years (for the NFL) option. In this major, you will get the training needed to handle fame, not get in over your head, learn who to avoid, how to deal with money, where and when to sell yourself and basically never be in a position in which you’re turning down 14 million and foreclosing on your house three years later.
The course layout is as follows:
– Accounting and Business Management: You’re going to be making an insane amount of money in a short amount of time. With this comes happiness but also the possibility of danger if you manage it poorly. This area of the curriculum will cover how to successfully manage your cash, including investments, business opportunities, the hiring and staffing of assistants and business managers, and general advice on both making your money last and grow.
– Marketing: If you’re as talented as everyone says you are, then you will eventually start getting endorsements and will build your personal name into a brand name. With this comes marketing, because there’s a fine line between being a creative icon and a corporate shill. Demographics will be covered, history of advertising and theory, and the general knowledge you need to decide why to pick the shoe deal over the hot dog deal.
– Life Coaching 101 (a.k.a. A Seminar Regarding Handling Your New Situation): You possibly have issues if you’ve gotten this far. Everybody says to you twenty times a day that you’re god, you’re the next big thing and you better not fuck it up. This will eventually give you some problems, because positive reinforcement can be almost as bad as the negative kind. There’s also a bunch of people who will take your newly gained insecurities and your entry into this new world and use it to suck you dry. With this seminar/lecture series, you will better learn to deal with people, yourself, pressure, the coach, the GM, the teammates, the good, the bad, the ugly and basically keep you as grounded as humanly possible. Certification will be achieved when the course is complete. Basically, this class will keep your ass out of jail.
– Theater and Public Speaking: You’ve gotten past marketing and money management, so now you’re signing up for those very profitable ads. No one wants to hear you stutter through the sales pitch, and everyone knows that athletes who can perfect a great sound byte get way more attention and cash than those who use the same old clichés. This is where Theater and Public Speaking comes in. You’ll learn how to be comfortable in front of people, because there is a difference between being on the court/field in your comfort zone and in front of a mic or a camera. You’ll also learn to do well at ads, and because your career can’t last forever, a smooth transition into the booth when you retire, or god help you, smash up an appendage. To those who think that this is a useless section, think about this: as good a player as Kenny Smith is, what do you remember more: his two NBA championship rings, or how entertaining he is with Charles Barkley on the pre game show on TNT?
These four areas, if completed with interest and the simple passion and drive that comes with wanting to be larger than life, will generate not only great personas and players, but a steep drop in stories like Mayo’s and Sprewell’s. Don’t you think that if USC went to OJ Mayo and gave him this option, he would jump at the chance? Don’t you think if Latrell had this option he wouldn’t be in massive debt? It’s time for colleges to go back to pure basics: an applicable education to prepare kids for their future. If a kid’s future desire is the NBA or the NFL, then they need to be prepared for that career. And for the student/athletes who want to major in English or Anthropology, electives will be their salvation. If the culture of pro and college sports continues to live within the myth of churning out “well rounded student athletes” then we’re going to have a lot more 19 year-old kids driving Bentleys their freshman year and becoming cautionary tales a few years later. It’s very simple – if you want to be a chemist, no one bats an eye when you sign up for labs. If your ambition is to be a famous athlete, then colleges ought to provide an education pertinent to that profession.No tags for this post.