Brandeis students in different world than young pro athletes

January 14, 2005

This past winter break, two people who play important roles in my life celebrated their twentieth birthdays. The individuals could not be more different, one a student, the other an athlete. One is female;

the other is male. One is my girlfriend;

the other is Cleveland Cavaliers guard/forward LeBron James. The player weve heard about being the second coming of Michael Jordan, the savior of the National Basketball Association, celebrated just his twentieth birthday this past December. LeBron James is merely the most extraordinary example of a college-aged professional athlete;

there are a plethora of cases similar to his, leaving people such as my girlfriend, and the rest of the Brandeis student body, wondering how weve fallen so far behind.

Ever since 1995, when Kevin Garnett became the first modern day high school athlete to jump to the NBA, the average age of players in the league has been plummeting, a pattern similarly felt by the NFL. The NFL, however, has a rule stating a player must be three years removed from graduating high school before he can enter the draft (though this rule has been challenged in courts for the past year, and there is no telling how long it will hold up). Unfortunately for the NBA, no such rule exists, and writing the law into the new collective bargaining agreement appears to be a monumental task.

So here I am, writing for an on campus newspaper as a junior at a well recognized university, about to turn 21, while people my age have already made millions because of their athletic abilities. What do they have that I dont? Sure, maybe they are a little taller and can jump a little higher, but I can write a darn good paper for Econometrics. Shouldnt that be worth a four year contract for over $10 million? Well, since I am back for second semester, the answer is quite clearly, no;

it is not worth a contract of any length for any amount of millions, at least not yet.

At this point you may be asking yourself, Self, how does the life of the average Brandeis student compare to that of a superstar professional athlete of the same age, say 20-year-old Carmelo Anthony? Well, since I feel as though I am in a good position to document the life of the average Brandeis student, lets begin with a brief list of our top sporting accomplishments to this point. I warmed the bench as a 13-year-old left fielder for my 20-0 championship winning, Little League baseball team. Carmelo, on the other hand, led Syracuse University to the 2003 NCAA Championship as a freshman, and on the heels of the performance, became the second pick in the NBA Draft, signing a contract guaranteeing him $15.1 million. Hmm, maybe I should have gone to Syracuse.

The biggest concern of a student is going to class and studying in order to get good grades that perhaps will translate into a good graduate school or a well paying job.
The only thing Carmelo studies is game tapes;

he doesnt have to worry about more education and hes already made enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life. Lucky college students live in singles that are about 160 square feet and after long days get to collapse in not just a twin bed, but a twin extra long. Carmelo not only bought himself a house in Denver where he no doubt lives comfortably, but also purchased a house for his mother in Baltimore, and he probably has king sized beds in both. Lets not even get started on the topic of food;

but all of these are trivial matters.

So what does it all mean? Have we all really fallen off the pace since we are not millionaires already and do not have Olympic medals like so many teens around the globe? Of course not, that would be a horribly bleak outlook on the situation at hand. Sure, it would be wonderful to rake in the dollars and have my biggest worry being which car that normal people cannot afford do I want to buy… or should I just buy all of them? But while LeBron is making a strong case for the MVP, and Carmelo is on pace to find himself in the All-Star game, we are enjoying a college experience which neither of them had, getting an education which may not translate into the same amount of money, but rather into knowledge and experience which, when push comes to shove, will go much further than another ten inches in height or two feet of vertical jump.

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