Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.
Why do people go to college?
The answer is simple. They go to college to prepare for their future careers. A kid who wants to become a doctor will go to the absolute best medical school that they are able to attend. Likewise, those seeking a career in law will pursue the best law schools, those who wish to be executives in corporate America will pursue the best business programs, and so on.
Students approach college in this manner because it puts them in the best possible position for success AFTER college. Where you go to school can have an influence on the prospective employers that will take notice of you. For example, the top producer from the Wharton School of Business will in all likelihood have garnered more interest from potential future employers than would the top performing student from The University of Phoenix Online.
That doesn’t mean the top performing student from The University of Phoenix is any less equipped for success in the “real world,” but Wharton has a much more prestigious name. It has a reputation as turning out the very best and the brightest. As such, those prospective employers who are interested in hiring the elite graduates from business school tend to keep closer tabs on the students at Wharton. They will want establish early relationships with those students, and get to know them through networking opportunities.
How do colleges facilitate that relationship? Through internships, guest presenters, and work-study programs. Those are just a few of the ways that corporate America can tie itself more closely with the future workforce that will be coming out of college in the years to come.
So if every college, regardless of career path, offers that benefit to its students, why on earth should athletics be excluded?
I completely understand the need to protect student athletes from unscrupulous agents. But the notion that banning professional scouts from practice does anything to combat the problem is like putting a cast on your arm because you broke your leg. The logic is completely flawed.
If a student is attending college in hopes of parlaying that experience into a professional career, shouldn’t they be afforded the exact same benefits that a med student, or a law student receives? By allowing professional scouts in the college environment student athletes are given a unique opportunity to showcase their skills for the very people they are HOPING will hire them once their time in college is done.
That is an ENTIRELY different relationship for an athlete than when they are in contact with a professional agent who has no ties to any prospective future employer. More importantly, the relationship between professional scouts and colleges is one that is healthy, and benefits a lot of people.
Realistically, professional sports internships aren’t an option for these kids. Where a business student can establish a relationship with a professional organization WHILE still attending classes, rules are put in place that prohibit athletes from that opportunity. A college quarterback is not allowed to go practice with the New England Patriots, or dress for a game, or work out at their facilities.
This is not a situation where athletes are being provided with special treatment either, since every college student has access to professionals while they are in college, regardless of the career they are pursuing. Allowing professional scouts into colleges is the same as granting student athletes the exposure to professional America that every single other college student also receives.
And guess what – this practice is good for the universities, too!
Just like the Wharton School of Business has established a reputation as turning out the best potential executives for corporate America, certain universities have developed a reputation as turning out the best potential professional athletes.
Ohio State and Texas are two schools known for their football pedigree. Duke and North Carolina are basketball schools. Each university has established a reputation as giving students the greatest opportunity for future success.
That reputation has grown as the result of an ongoing cycle. Pro scouts flock to those programs because they know they will get to see the top athletes. As a result, the universities get to tout that reputation and higher caliber athletes will want to play for those programs because they will then get the increased exposure they so crave.
Scouts make the programs look better, and the programs make the scouts look better. It is a win-win relationship, and the only thing that would happen by banning scouts from having access to college athletes would be to negatively impact everyone involved.
The programs would lose much of their recruiting capability, which in turn would hurt the chances of sustainable success.
Professional sports teams, and their fans, would suffer because the teams would lose much of the insight that is gained from scouting athletes while they are still in college. While it’s possible to gauge a wide receiver’s speed, or a tight end’s blocking skills, simply by watching them play, it is not possible to gauge intangible qualities that are just as vital at the next level.
How does the athlete interact with his teammates? Is he a leader or a motivator? What is his work ethic like? Does he adapt and adjust well when given new techniques to practice? All of those things require much closer access to the coaches and the program than simply sitting in the bleachers on game day.
Finally, the athletes would suffer because they would have less of an opportunity to differentiate themselves from their peers, ultimately impacting their chances at obtaining top-level salaries.
The current system that provides professional scouts with access to colleges is beneficial to everyone involved, and I see no reason to change that formula for success.