Apr 042005
Authors: Jon Pilsner

They're student-athletes! Don't bet on it!

The game's perfect! Don't make it change!

Please, make the public service announcements stop!

While watching as much basketball as humanly possible in the past couple of days, I've had to suffer through the droves of NCAA public service announcements.

If you've flipped on CBS, I'm sure you've seen them. The commercials with the pretty, young athletes with the voiceover saying, "There are over 300,000 student-athletes in the NCAA, and almost all of us are going pro in something other than sports."

Please, somebody shoot my television before I put my foot through it.

As much as I love the NCAA – oh, and I love it like my younger brother – it becomes tedious hearing how all the athletes are not really athletes, but they are student-athletes! Remember, they're students, too! (Sometimes)

As soon as the NCAA Tournament ends, the roulette wheel of draftees begins. Will he stay? Will he leave for the millions and millions of dollars the NBA will throw at him for him to under-perform?

The NCAA is slowly becoming a farm system for the professional sports. But they don't want to admit that. They're content renaming the NCAA to Not Calling them Amateur Athletes.

Collegiate basketball often misses the best players. They skip over the work of being a student-athlete and go right for the millions.

And who can blame them? I want to be lazy and skip college, too. But I can't. My dream job seems to want a degree or something stupid like that. But, college is much more than just a degree. It's a complete education.

College basketball, by far a better game than the brooding activity called basketball by the NBA these days, doesn't get to see the top talent perform, grow and create even better Madness in March.

With the collective-bargaining agreement between NBA players and owners expiring this year, the NBA and NCAA have an opportunity to prove they are interested in growing young men and making the game better.

Players should have to grow first before becoming the center of the limelight. Nobody should look a free education in the mouth and spit it back. Fans should be treated to seeing the best athletes in the world still play something resembling basketball.

At the very least, adopt the NFL rule that states that players must be at least three years removed from high school before entering the draft. With this, naturally gifted players who wish to leave could, but would still have had more education in the classroom and in life.

Perhaps if the NCAA stopped trying to remind us the players are student-athletes and tried to make some athletes into students, we'd all learn a little respect.

And my television would be safe.

Jon Pilsner is a junior technical journalism major. He is the Collegian's assistant sports editor.

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