From ESPN.com: “Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 pick in this spring’s NFL draft, announced Thursday that he will stay in school and play his redshirt junior season. ‘I am committed to earning my degree in architectural design from Stanford University and am on track to accomplish this at the completion of the spring quarter of 2012,’ Luck said in a statement.”
Wow. Just wow. I have three quick thoughts on this:
1. I hate that our society has placed such a high value on education. Shouldn’t we be teaching our kids that the most important thing is finding something that he or she loves to do? For the vast majority of our children, the path to that something will be through education. In that case, I’m all for education. I finished seven years of post-secondary school because I want to be an attorney and that education was necessary. But I didn’t go to law school for the education. Education is a means to an end.
I have to assume that Luck’s biggest goal in life is to become an NFL (and hopefully Super Bowl-winning) quarterback. A degree in architectural design is not necessary to achieve that dream. On the off-chance that he actually wants to be an architect more than an NFL quarterback, I’d seriously question his commitment if I was the team drafting him. But I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s more likely that he’s heard that education is the most important thing his entire life and actually buys into that nonsense. He has a chance to fulfill a dream that he has worked to achieve for his entire life but is jeopardizing it because our society can’t tell the difference between means and ends.
2. I’ve seen several people applaud his decision because he didn’t fall into the “show me the money” trap that’s so pervasive in American culture. This is beyond ridiculous to me. That’s the type of stuff that you say when financial advisors get busted running Ponzi schemes. Luck’s decision isn’t like the people who forsake their personal lives and become workaholics for an extra $25,000 a year. Last year’s #1 draft pick Sam Bradford signed a six-year deal worth $78 million, $50 million of which is guaranteed. That’s over $8 million a year (by the way, the average architect makes about $75,000 a year). This isn’t a let’s-applaud-Luck-for-not-saying-show-me-the-money situation. It’s just a dumb financial decision. He’s going to be drafted to be an NFL quarterback regardless of whether it’s this year or next. For why this was dumb, look no further than fellow Pac-10 quarterback Jake Locker. Locker was the probable number 1 pick after his junior season. He decided to come back to school, hurt his draft stock by playing poorly, and is expected to fall to the second round of the draft. Jimmy Clausen, the only quarterback who was drafted in the second round last year, signed a four-year, $6.3 million contract, with $2.5 million in guarantees – about $620,000 a year.
Look, I get that sports are sports. I agree even if I’m more obsessed than most. There are many, many, many things more important than sports. But at the end of the day an athlete is still a profession. Is there another profession anywhere that people would actually applaud a person just entering the workforce for taking a $7.4 million dollar pay cut to do the same job? Rich CEOs and the Bill Gateses of the world don’t count – I’m talking about a first job in a field. Imagine if McDonald’s offered me $8 million to flip burgers but Burger King offered me $620,000 and I decided to go work for Burger King. You’d say that’s irrational: the flame-grilled burgers are delicious, but no where near that delicious. Why should sports be different just because they’re sports? Staying in school isn’t about not saying “show me the money,” it’s about making a irrational economic decision.
3. The Carolina Panthers are a mess. Not wanting to play in North Carolina absolutely had to go into Luck’s decision. Expanding to Charlotte and Jacksonville was viewed as questionable at the time and still looks questionable. Exhibit a for this is Jacksonville playing home games in front of 20,000 people last year. This would be exhibit b. If the Los Angeles Panthers had the first pick of the draft, Luck wouldn’t have had to give it a second thought: he’d be the LA quarterback of the future. Poor Panthers fans. They already have to live in North Carolina and then a franchise quarterback slips through their hands simply because they live in North Carolina. Now they get to choose between giving this another year:
Or drafting this: