BASKETBALL ISSUE | A price to pay for leaving early

Photo by Maria Porter

When Shelvin Mack left his position as a junior guard on Butler’s men’s basketball team, there were not many people who were truly surprised.

Mack left Butler a year early to enter the National Basketball Association’s 2011 draft, where he was selected by the Washington Wizards.

Since the NBA lockout began in late June, Mack has been stuck playing when he can, which includes action in Pro Am games.

Of course, it would be easy for Butler basketball fans to get on Mack about leaving since the NBA lockout got underway. Mack is unable to practice with his new team when he could have been playing with his former Bulldogs’ teammates this season.

I do not know the reasons behind Mack jumping to the NBA, and it would be wrong of me to try to assume what they might be.

However, I believe that Mack should have stayed at Butler for one more season, and I am not saying this merely because the men’s team could use him this season.

Mack is not the first college basketball player to jump to the NBA before the end of his senior collegiate season, and he certainly will not be the last.

While I do not feel there should be a rule preventing college students from entering the NBA draft, I do believe they should think long and hard about the choice they are making when they leave college early.

When a student-athlete makes a commitment to play a sport in college, the college assumes that said student-athlete will be part of the team for a full four seasons.

So what happens when a student-athlete decides to break this commitment to play the same sport professionally?

When a collegiate athlete promises to play a sport for a college and later decides he or she would rather go pro than finish his or her collegiate career, it shows that the athlete cannot be trusted with a commitment.

Who says that the athlete will not leave the professional team he or she joins after just a year of participation?

Essentially, negative conclusions can be drawn about an athlete when he or she opts out of a commitment early, and those conclusions can stay with the athlete for the rest of his or her career.

Another problem with an athlete leaving college early is the fact that he or she is not only leaving collegiate athletics—the athlete is also leaving his or her schooling prematurely.

What happens if an athlete’s professional athletic career does not pan out? His or her fallback plan would likely be whatever they were learning in college.

However, the athlete did not get a complete education and may now struggle to get a job. Finishing schooling should be a student-athlete’s primary goal during college.

When an athlete leaves college early, he or she is also abandoning the college experience that could have created great future opportunities for the athlete.

Opportunities come in a variety of forms during college, and if an athlete leaves college early, he or she could miss out on something that would have changed his or her life for the better.

Like I said before, I do not know the reasons behind Mack jumping to the NBA. He deserves the right to do as he wishes, and I hope he can have a fantastic career in professional basketball.

In the end, however, I think college athletes need to be careful what they wish for and consider all variables before leaving college early.

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