You hear this argument every year in college sports, particularly in college basketball, about how players leaving early before they graduate is ruining the game. The proponents of this agenda will say they are at college to go to school and graduate, they need their degree to fall back on if and/or when their pro career does not pan out, they need to be loyal to the college and the school's fans, and whatever other arguments the media wants to propagate.
The purpose of college today is to get a job that will make you more money than what the average person can get straight out of high school. We don't live in the days of ancient Greece or even in the 1800's anymore when higher education was for only the most privileged of individuals. It's not to fill some self-actualization prophecy, to become a more well-rounded educated person, it's to get the skills and knowledge they need to get a job in a desired field.
Likewise, modern amateur athletics was originally conceptualized in the 19th century by the urban wealth in Europe and the United States so they could make more money. It was designed to be restricted to the privileged that didn't have to work every day and could afford to go to private schools and universities. The working class didn't have the time or money to participate in amateur athletics. The concept of amateur athletics was to further divide the privileged wealth of the 1800s upper class from the working class. The upper class opposed the professionalization of sports because it made it possible for the working class to compete with the upper class. The upper class feared professionalization would essentially ruin the integrity of the sport while the working class felt they deserved to be paid since people were profiting off the events.
So while college is designed to get one a better pay day, amateur athletics is designed to prevent you from getting a pay day. Obviously, these two ideals cannot co-exist for eternity.
People in other industries leave college early to become wealthy. Steve Jobs dropped out of college to form Apple. Bill Gates dropped out to form Microsoft. Mark Zuckerberg dropped out to go full force with Facebook. Michael Dell dropped out to form Dell Computers? Ralph Lauren dropped out to form the clothing company of his namesake. Matt Mullenweg dropped out of to start WordPress, which now powers 16 percent of the web. Arash Ferdowsi is a college dropout and co-founder of DropBox, now worth an estimated $4 billion. Aaron Levie is a dropout that founded Box, which could IPO at a $3 billion valuation. Daniel Elk is a college dropout and founded Spotify. Sahil Lavingia dropped out of college to design Pinterest. George Clooney, Woody Allen, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock are all actors that dropped out of college. James Cameron is the most successful movie director of all time and is a college dropout. John Mackey dropped out to founder Whole Foods.
Did all these people ruin their respective industry because they dropped out of college early? No, they did nothing but innovate and make a monumental, positive impact on their industry and the world. We are all better off today because of their decision to drop out of college to go on to do what they did and become very, very wealthy.
In graduate school, I had to do several real projects for real organizations with the combined open market value of these projects amounting to nearly $1 million dollars. You know how much money I received for doing these projects? $0. I was exploited for my brains and my hard work in the classroom much like a D1 college athlete is exploited for their skills on the court or the field. Do you know how many people would have told me I was some sort of immoral or ethically wrong decision had I left graduate school to take a much more profitable job? Nobody. Not my family, not my friends, not my peers, not the people I was working for, not even the college!
Eric Bledsoe left after one year of playing basketball at the University of Kentucky. For his entire child hood, he lived in poverty. For much of his life, he did not live in a house, rather he lived in a car. He lived in a freaking car. He didn’t get the privilege of living in an apartment on a permanent basis until he was 18 years old. For him, a good day before he got to Kentucky was when he was able to wake up the next morning. After playing one year of college basketball, he got the opportunity to be drafted to the NBA and earn an annual salary of well over $1 million and has the opportunity to earn a whole lot bigger of a contract when he becomes a free agent. And you are trying to tell me it’s wrong for him to leave college early?
So why is it wrong for a college basketball player, who is very often not affluent, to want to leave college early to become a professional athlete? Clearly, said college athlete has reached the goal of college, which is to get your pay day. If he can earn millions to hundreds of thousands of dollars before graduating, what is wrong with that when it is okay for people in other industries to do it?
Or is it wrong because with all your wealth you can’t stand to see a poor black man go on to earn more money than you instead of being kept down and exploited for as long as possible to satisfy your own selfish and greedy needs?