Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spoiled or Smarter?

Dave Telep wrote a piece that called elite basketball players "entitled". His argument may be valid but here are a few thoughts.

One definition of entitlement is,"belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges".

How does one become deserving? One version of the "American Way" can be summarized as the belief that one rises by his/her own merits. The harder(smarter) one works, the higher they will rise. To deserve something is to "earn" it, as defined by Webster.

Elite basketball players on the boys side of amateur basketball ARE an industry. In fact, Dave Telep is well compensated for covering "amateur" basketball. That is not a shot at the very well respected Telep, I am a huge fan of his work. And in that work, he too is entitled to certain amenities that he has "earned". Every year, elders complain of the devaluing of morals, norms, respect etc, among the youth. Are the norms and morals of elite basketball players deteriorating into a culture of "entitlement"?  Maybe. Or, are the kids becoming smarter to the business of boys basketball and the fact that it evolves around THEM!?

Men's college basketball has a 14 year, 11 billion dollar deal to broadcast amateur basketball players during the Big Dance. I am personally VERY THANKFUL for the deal and the revenue generated by these amateurs. I so happen to be a father of two athletes whom, thanks to Title 9, college careers will be partially underwritten by the success of these young "entitled" basketball players.

The problem with us old heads, is that we still want the kids to believe in Santa Clause. We want these young men to believe that it is not mommy and/or daddy that "earn" enough for them to "deserve" gifts. We want them to believe that it is a heavy set dude, riding fictitious animals that fly, that provides the gifts FOR them! Not happening! These young men know THEY generate the revenue that EARNS the gifts. These young men know that they have spent incalculable hours honing a craft that only a very small percentage of the population possess. Fact! If the frequently stated "fact" that less than 3% of basketball players make it to college, and less that 1% make it to the Division 1 ranks is true, then how do we NOT expect these young adults to feel "deserving' or entitled? They do deserve it, they have earned it!

Harvard had an acceptance rate of 5.9% in 2012. Yale acceptance rate is 6.8%. Do these Ivy League schools have "entitled", as in "deserving", students? Of course they do. Many of these students go on to create enormous wealth, thus, providing tax dollars and jobs for many. How are they different from the tax producing, job creating basketball dunkers in boys/men's amateur basketball? An argument can be made, by fathers like myself, that the elite basketball players of the country have a greater social benefit to our country than the  Harvard educated Marc Zuckerbergs of the world. Before you laugh, please consider how many non-revenue producing athletes that are "supported" by the revenue that is produced by "entitled" basketball and football players.  How many young men and women would NOT have been afforded the opportunity to attend college on a scholarship if not for the revenue produced by these "entitled" amateur athletes? The NCAA commercials advertising the many former athletes that "went pro' in non-sporting careers directly speaks to the contributions of revenue producing athletes.

Technology has made everything seemingly faster and easier these days. No longer do we use maps when driving as GPS systems have become the norm. Consequently, many youngsters can care less that learning to Never Eat Sour Worms was how some of us learned to memorize north, east, south and west. Though we may not agree with how they get there, these youngsters are still getting there. We may forget that we were once considered the "entitled" ones. We "deserved" cable, not regular TV stations. We "deserved" tapes and CD's, not 8 tracks and scratched up records. We were not happy with the Rustlers and Wranglers of K-Mart, we wanted to sport Levis and Guess. Most of us expected our parents to provide these luxuries. Nowadays, these boy ballers help provide many luxuries to others. Should we be upset that they are being smarter than the generation(s) before them in recognizing their monetary value to an entire industry. Maybe us old heads are the entitled ones by expecting these elite worker bees to keep producing honey without tasting the fruits of their labor. Sounds entitled to me!