Youth Must Be Served (Immediately)

I suppose that I am in the minority here, but if a 16-year old phenom is the next “Chosen One”, I’m actually willing to wait for that potential to be reached.

Sadly, there are many who can’t wait for the kid by the name of Bryce Harper to mature into the next great baseball superstar. 

Sports Illustrated, for one, is guilty of helping to perpetrate the myth by jumping on the Harper bandwagon and making the self-serving decision to inject themselves into the story by making him the cover boy of their recent June 8th issue.

Bryce Harper

And papa, Ron, is “all in” as they like to say in hometown Las Vegas, announcing on Saturday that Bryce will be leaving high school immediately, after his sophomore year, to enroll at the College of Southern Nevada to play for the Coyotes next season.

I’ll be blunt and succint.  This is a sad story with no redeeming upside.

This move sets up the likelihood that Harper will make himself available for next year’s MLB draft at the tender age of 17.  And while I fully acknowledge that it is the Harpers’ right to decide how they would like to conduct their lives, the precedent set by this decision (not to mention the similar decision of basketballer Jeremy Tyler to skip his senior year of high school and play professionally in Europe) completes the slippery slope that we have been on for years in stripping premiere (and many wanna-be) athletes of their youth.

I could spend about 2500 words going on a rant here, but I’d ultimately fall short of capturing the essence of what is so terribly wrong with a world in which 18-month olds play team sports, “elite” 6-year old athletes wind up on travel teams, pre-teens are asked to decide which sport to focus on exclusively, 8th graders accept college scholarship offers, and high-schoolers become media superstars, holding press conferences to announce which college will have the privilege of their presence on campus.

Apparently, the old ways of kids being kids weren’t good enough.  And every precedent-setting decision pushes the needle even farther. 

I can only hope that there is eventually some pushback to this madness.  Otherwise, if I don’t apply to get my two-year old accepted for a baseball academy soon, I will clearly have ruined his chance for the professional career that he so obviously deserves. 

Think that sounds ridiculous?  I certainly do.  But every day that a Ron Harper makes an announcement like this weekend’s regarding developments with his son brings us ever closer to this apocalyptic state.

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~ by acm213 on June 14, 2009.

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