Coach Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats brings his undefeated team to the final four. He deserves credit for coaching his young men to the pinnacle of college basketball the NCAA college basketball championship final four.
What I find troubling about Coach Calipari is his championing not the student athlete but his push for a high school basketball player being able to go straight into pro basketball from high school. I am sure that one of his recruiting tools is that the best of the best of high school basketball players will get to start immediately as a freshman at Kentucky and then turn pro. His coaching will help them reach their goal of reaching the NBA. But what of their life after basketball? Will they be as prepared as they can be and wise enough and educated enough to be able to handle all of the money that they MIGHT earn?
Coach Dean Smith a legendary coach just died and one of his legacies was that the great preponderance of his players graduated from college. He along with John Wooden prepared their players for life beyond basketball. If you listen to Dean’s players they honor his memory by what they are doing after their basketball careers are over.
I am afraid that what Coach Calipari teaches is to get the money while you can. On the surface that sounds great, but far too many high schools stars fail to make it in the pros. By missing out on an education they miss out on being more prepared for life after basketball. Young men are more than just a commodity to be used by us as entertainment.
I prefer the way the NFL handles young men in that they require the player in college to stay in school for 3 years before they can turn pro. They get to enjoy the college life and hopefully gain as human beings from the knowledge that they gain by going to school and many decide to work on getting their degree at some point. We should champion those who get an education and not just praise the athlete for bringing a championship to a school.
While Coach Calipari might win a championship for Kentucky give me a Coach Dean Smith or John Wooden any day. They helped to mold men. Coach Calipari might be cutting down the net along with his players a week from today, but I will be rooting for the student athletes.
Sometime soon Coach Dean Smith will hopefully know that his former players are enjoying his gift to each of them of $200 at some nice dinner somewhere sharing stories of their life experiences made more meaningful by being taught by not only one of the greatest coaches of all time but also by a great man who saw in his players the potential for being fine men.