It’s okay to tell a black kid from the projects that he needs to at least start his education before he is eligible to play in the NBA, but doing the same to a white baseball player from Middle-America is completely unheard of. That much is made clear every June when hundreds of high school students are selected in Major League Baseball’s First Year Player Draft, forcing teenagers to make the decision between a lifelong dream and more school.
All too often, reality takes a backseat.
Or at least it becomes distorted. Getting drafted is a big deal. It means that somewhere along the line, a scout saw you and decided you have the ability to play professional baseball. But what isn’t made clear is that pro ball isn’t necessarily Major League ball, and in a game that measures statistics better than any other sport, the odds of even a top draft pick making it past the 8-hour bus rides in the minors to The Show are slim-to-none.
That’s what people are missing when they focus on playing guidance counselor for urban basketball players. The majority of basketball players who don’t cut it are weeded out long before even thinking about a major D-1 school, much less the NBA. Even in the early part of this decade, when making the jump to the league became trendy, only a handful of high school seniors ever actually declared for the draft.
In this year’s baseball draft, 15 high school seniors went in the opening round. But that’s not even the scariest number. Assuming they make the right decisions, those kids will benefit from the million-dollar signing bonuses they receive, even if they never come close to the majors. But what about the hundreds of 18 year olds who are going to receive the $1,000 or $2,000 bonuses that come from being selected in the later rounds?
Those kids won’t even be guaranteed a full-ride to college and even for the ones who are, how many will actually decide they want to go to school following years of making slightly-above minimum wage in the minors? Think about the number of everyday people, not just athletes, who decide to go work right after graduating high school. How many of them ever end up with a degree?
Talk about your ultimate double standard. While we’re okay with a rule that prevents maybe six high school basketball players each year from going pro, we’re allowing over 400 baseball players to make a decision that makes them far less likely to ever be qualified for a job that doesn’t involve hitting or pitching.
But god forbid we ask baseball players to attend freshman math.
If they did, they might learn that the numbers aren’t in their favor.