It was the best of times for one, it was the worst of times for another. This is a tale of two 20 year-olds....
One is Washington Nationals franchise player Bryce Harper. Harper plays professionally, is part of a team in a 162-game season, and is making more money than his grandkids will ever spend. Not bad for a kid not even at the legal drinking age.
The other is University of Lousiville basketball player Kevin Ware. Ware is a college basketball player who broke his leg in U of L's victory to get them into the Final Four. He is not making more money than his grandkids will ever spend-- in fact, he is not making any money off his talents at all yet... due to NCAA regulations against that sort of thing.
This column is not about paying stpiends to college players. The wisdom of that is being debated by others far wiser on the subject than I. It is, however, a stark contrast between the 20 year-old Harper and the 20 year-old Ware. Will Ware be better off with a college degree than Harper-- who went straight to pro ball? Is this a trade-off athletes are willing to make?
Let's take another example-- of a player who could have had millions by the time he turned 21. His name is Shane Larkin-- the multi-talented guard for the University of Miami. After a disppointing end to this season, Larkin decided to spurn the NBA for at least another year, and play for the 'Canes. Now, Larkin has a mulligan here-- his dad is baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin. However, he decided early to forego baseball-- even though he is obviously talented at it-- and follow the footsteps of his uncle Byron Larkin. Larkin was an extremely talented point guard for Xavier University in Cincinnati. Is he making the right move to give up millions right away for a chance to make them later?
It is the best of times, and the worst of times for two 20 year-olds. Bryce Harper and Kevin Ware-- two athletes... one making millions, and one suffering as a college student with a broken leg. Here's to hoping for long, productive lives for both young men-- and for Larkin. They all have very bright futures ahead.
That's my take... I'm Tom Lee.