What is the point of staying in school?

May 21, 2009
It was bound to happen sooner or later. A young man has chosen to forgo his senior year of high school to play professional basketball. Jeremy Tyler, 6’9, 240lb. high school basketball player feels that he would benefit from playing two years in Europe before entering the NBA draft. There has been significant discussion and outrage over this decision. 

Some commentators argue that Tyler is giving up his childhood and the money will be there when he finishes school. The money may very well be there when he finishes school, but that is not the point. More and more, we have become a society that undervalues education.

While watching the NBA Conference Finals, I noticed that none of the top players (Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, or Dwight Howard) have a college degree among them. As a matter of fact, the four players have a combined one year of college. Carmelo Anthony played his freshman year at Syracuse before leaving for the NBA.
So this leads back to the topic. What is the point of staying in school? 

Parents would tell their kids that if you stay in school you can get a good job. What if someone wants to give a kid a good job before he finishes school? What then? Well, being a professional basketball player is a good. You make a great living, travel a lot, and meet new people. And if you perform well, you’re all but guaranteed to make a lot more money. 

That sounds great for 10 years. Yes sir. Ten years is all you get. Most of us will reach our peak earning power somewhere in our 50s. Professional athletes reach their peak earning power between 25 and 30. This leaves you and me a lot more life experience in dealing with money. It is possible to earn $50 Million dollars by age 30 and lose it all by age 40. Now, if you have a high school education or less and your knees are shot, what are you going to do?

Education expands opportunities. An educated person is never limited by his or her job. When a playing career ends, a communications degree may turn into a broadcasting job. A business management degree can help someone run a successful clothing line or restaurant chain. Michael Jordan represents a great example of an educated athlete.

He earns more money today, at age 46, than he did during his best statistical season with the Chicago Bulls. The point of staying in school is to increase opportunities for success in multiple arenas – athletic, academic, business, and personal. When our parents said we can be anything we put our minds to, they meant it.

“As a man thinketh, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Encourage young people to stay in school. Until next time…

Be a Good Sport!

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