Jason Whitlock has a breathtaking column inspired by the poor NBA draft results of Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur - "poor" being the 34th and 27th picks, respectively, for those of you like me who didn't pay much attention to a Tar Heel-free draft. His solution to keep the Jayhawks in school? An education centered around professional athletics. No, really:
Universities should offer educational majors in professional athletics. Had Chalmers and Arthur been enrolled in KU’s hypothetical school of professional athletics with an emphasis in basketball, I believe they not only would’ve made more intelligent decisions but also been more enthusiastic about staying in school.
You can teach all the educational disciplines — math, English, science, etc. — through athletics. You can teach kids to think critically by properly teaching them the sports world. All the responsibility of preparing Chalmers and Arthur for the NBA (and life) should not have fallen on the overworked shoulders of Bill Self and his coaching staff.
Put aside the rampant possibilities for educational fraud inherent in such a plan - think of Jim Harrick's wonderful classes down in Athens - and just focus on Whitlock's impression of a college education. That it's just a glorified trade school. That "all the educational disciplines" can be lumped under the heading of professional basketball like it's so many 7th grade math word problems. Christ, even business students study more than one business over four years.
Here's a thought. Maybe athletes leave school early, driving sportswriters to write desperate columns on how they don't value the opportunity of good education because they're surrounded by folks like you, Jason Whitlock, who don't value the opportunity of a good education. Who just think of it as a rubber stamp, or something to pass the time in between layup drills. This is college, dammit, and players should be treated like the college adults they are, not ghettoized to special programs that further self-center them around chasing a ball around a court.
Players leave for the draft early because the NBA pays buckets and buckets of money. Some don't because they think they believe those buckets can be larger with another year of college sports under their belt. Some think the risk isn't worth the immediate payday, and they can improve quicker on the professional stage than in the NCAA's. (And some just really like that awesome philosophy class.) Most of them at least get a window into a larger world in college classes, though. There's no reason to shut them out of that just to further maximize your enjoyment of amateur sports.