RT Staff Note: Pass this post on to everyone you know. We said we would stop the NCAA ranting...but the more we stop and pause about how great this game is, the angrier we get.
The college and high school regular seasons are over and play-off time is upon us. Many players and their teams that weren't lucky enough to earn a play-off berth are cleaning out their lockers and saying their good-byes to another season of baseball. For many, this will be their last time in an organized baseball program. For others, they await another season of summer ball and for the elite few, the years ahead will be consumed with baseball whether it be college or pro.
The MLB draft is in a few weeks. Many players have been told by their advisors where they stand and how high they will get drafted. Most of those prospects are finishing their junior season in college. But some prospects are graduating from high school.
No matter how great the prospect, we would like to see more high school players go to college. We understand that the short term financial rewards of a top 5 round selection is tough to ignore...especially for a family that is not financially secure. Since the NCAA and it's member institutions can't seem to fathom the inequities of the reward to workload ratio that baseball players endure, the decision to go pro will always win out over a family trying to cope with paying 50% of the cost to play baseball at a college.
However, for those families that can work it out financially or qualify for student loans or grants to limit the additional out of pocket costs that the pittance they call a baseball scholarship doesn't cover, a player should experience and take advantage of what college has to offer.
Today's college baseball program is on par with the physical and mental development that has been the standard in college football and basketball for years. Many of the top programs have highly regarded coaching staffs, strength and conditioning coaches, top of the line equipment contracts, major league quality facilities, and a fan base that rivals the minor leagues.
The collegiate baseball player also has access to a variety of amenities from sports psychologists to nutritionists that can help them hone their skills and prepare for a long grueling season that literally is year round. From the minute they set foot on campus in the fall, they are strapping on their cleats and adjusting their batting gloves for fall practices and scrimmages and it doesn't really end until they complete their wood bat summer league assignment in August.
But the biggest advantage is the education and preparation of a life without baseball...because no matter how good a player is...you just never know. College will give young men a more controlled and disciplined path to maturity. Their lives are on a hourly schedule from 6AM to 10PM with little or no time to deviate from that schedule. College teaches them responsibility, accountability, time management, work ethic, and peer to peer friendships with young adults all around the same age that will last a lifetime.
The minor leagues for a graduating high school student doesn't offer that type of controlled environment. A kid is thrown from the life of living with mom and dad to the lives and lifestyles of players that are 23 or older. And while college is not immune from it's temptations, in minor league ball, there are no tests to study for or homework to finish after a game and that often leads to the type of down time that ruins careers. In those very volatile attitude, aptitude and maturity formation years from 18-22, it's our opinion that a player will be better served to grow up in a college environment.
But for many...college is just not economically feasible and that's because the NCAA doesn't seem to care about the gross inequities of college baseball. If college baseball players were a part of an American business, it would be served with multiple law suits that would be in violation of hundreds of labor laws. No player in any sport including football works as hard and has a grueling schedule like the collegiate baseball player. And no player gets less scholarship money for it's hard work than baseball.
So, as you watch the NCAA Regionals, Super Regionals and College World Series on ESPN and ABC, unlike their basketball and football counterparts...those players parents had to pay about $10,000 a year for their kids to be there...which is about one fifth of the cost of one 30 second TV commercial that the NCAA and ESPN will be running and profiting on for the next 4 weeks. Doesn't seem fair.