Why do we do this every year? More importantly, why do we do this to ourselves?
As sports enthusiasts, we spend countless hours of our precious time analyzing draft eligible prospects, debating which ones will translate better into the pros and which will be “busts.” When I say…well, actually in this case type, sports enthusiasts, I’m using the term loosely, as it encompasses not only fans, but the so-called draft gurus and talent evaluators who make their living going on air and proclaiming 18-22-year-old kids are not quite talented enough, or do not have the mental make up to accomplish their goals.
This only happens in the realm of sports.
Imagine if [Insert your favorite draft guru here] went to UCLA or USC and told students in the business school that they will never make six figures. Imagine that same so-called expert going to Julliard or Yale and telling the thespians that they will never win an academy award.
I know society wants to paint millennials with the broadest brush possible. Labeling them babies who often don’t want to leave the nest, but there is something fundamentally wrong with “predicting” the career trajectory of kids who are not even old enough to rent a car.
To add insult to injury, we then label pick 253, Mr. Irrelevant. Although the label is made in jest, he still surpassed a number of other NFL hopefuls who were not as fortunate to hear their name called, a dream many kids aspire for. Imagine labeling a new hire at a law firm, one who just barely beat out the other applicants, the Irrelevant Litigator.
Give credit to these fine young athletes we have watched develop before our very eyes. Imagine having your entire collegiate career, regardless if it involved sports, or was purely limited to academia covered for the entire world to see, read about, and critique. We forget all of the kids whose dream ends after their final high school game, we’re forgetting the young men, who although they played collegiately, are not quite talented enough for the NFL. Lastly, we are forgetting the unlucky few whose careers were unfortunately cut short by injury. Although the draft is only the beginning of their NFL career, we must praise these athletes for at least making it this far.
Don’t get me wrong, the draft does provide many joyful moments. We all love seeing the faces of a family who will no longer have to worry about their next meal or if they will afford next month’s rent. We love seeing the smiles and tears of joy from athletes who just realized a nearly 20-year dream. Yet, for all those fine moments, there are the moments that make you feel uneasy. Many top prospects, if not in the green room or at the draft, have camera crews at their family homes to capture the moment, once again for the whole word to witness. But, more often than not, there is at least one highly touted prospect whose draft stock has slipped, seeing their down faces will make anyone wince with sadness, witnessing someone’s dreams slowly start to diminish before our very eyes.
I only wonder why we ask so much of our athletes. Why must these young men’s lives be a constant presence in ours? I am not advocating the boycott of the draft, or telling you what you should or should not enjoy. I am purely advocating that sometimes we must afford these young men a level of privacy. For those who are years removed from your college days, think back to when you were that age. Would you have wanted people watching all of the important and life altering moments of your early 20’s?
I didn’t think so.
[Featured Image by Matt Rourke/AP Images]