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Athletes Skip College to Head Straight to the Pros

Staff Writer

Published: Friday, August 28, 2009

Updated: Friday, August 28, 2009 09:08

At 16 years old, Bryce Harper's decision to speed up his journey to Major League Baseball (MLB) is one that is turning many heads in the sports world.

After appearing on the cover of the June issue of Sports Illustrated, Harper quickly elevated from a great, local high school baseball player, to a player who many are predicting to be the newest star of MLB.

With the news of Harper's decision spreading, the age-old topic of whether student-athletes should go professional before or after they graduate arises.

"I feel if they do not go to college, they don't have anything to fall back on. Nothing is guaranteed," said sophomore business management major Sidney Cross.  You could get hurt, and then what could you do? You do not have a plan for afterwards."

Famous and heralded athletes such as Jack Nicklaus, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant did not graduate from college before pursuing their career goals. Some think students-athletes may be thinking of pursuing their professional sports career pre-maturely.

"I think that some athletes do give a false sense of hope. Not everyone can be a Kobe or a LeBron," Cross said.

Charles Bryce, sophomore psychology major also believes that students look to veteran players too much sometimes.

"I would not say that those athletes are setting bad examples or anything like that, but they obviously exceeded the boundaries [of] what most student athletes want to do," Bryce said.

"They give everyone a sense of hope for something that may not necessarily happen."

While Bryce believes that most student-athletes want to go pro, he also believes the thought of an impending injury during their college career also pushes some students to strive for the chances to go pro.

"Student-athletes always want to go pro and get their money first," he said. "Everyone's initial fear is that they may get hurt while playing in college and not be able to go pro, but even if that injury does happen, you can always get your degree."

While there are some who believe waiting until after a college graduation is the best decision for athletes, there are some who oppose.

"The main reason you go to college is to get more of an education so that you could make more money ... than you would in high school," said Carey Bailey, head coach of the Bison football team. "Now if you have the opportunity to make the same, or if not more money than you would be going to college, go ahead and make that choice." 

Remembering the history of different professional athletes who have gone professional before graduating, Bailey also noted the different reactions African-American athletes seem to get when they go pro early in comparison to other races.

"When Jack Nicklaus left college to become a PGA pro, it was no biggie. Historically, it seems as if African-Americans get criticized. If a Kobe or Kevin Garnett does it, they question it."

Harper, who bypassed his last years of high school to attend the College of Southern Nevada will receive his GED this fall, making him eligible for the 2010 MLB draft.

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