Opinion Sports Columns

Terrence Payne: National Football and Basketball Signing Days All Sizzle, No Steak

Terrence Payne
Managing Editor

Alex Collins
Robert Duyos/Sun Sentinel/MCT

If you weren’t aware, Wednesday was a holiday. It was the day when the nation’s top high school football players can officially sign their letters of intent for whatever college football team they desire. Basically, part of the sports world comes to a screeching halt to watch 17- and 18-year-old players sign a piece of paper, many of whom we will never hear from on the collegiate level.

Look, most of us on this campus are from the northeast. Football isn’t a religion to us like it is down south. Mississippi might as well hold a parade in the streets of Jackson because Ole Miss got four of the top players in the nation. It’s the biggest thing for the Rebels’ football team since The Blind Side.

But to me, it’s an overreaction to many teenagers. It should be a joyous occasion for these young men who have earned a free scholarship to college through hard work. Over the years it’s become a laughable spectacle.

ESPN ranked the top 300 seniors in the nation. The ranking system is flawed. Always has been. Always will be. There are so many variables when these kids hit the next level. Players could be saddled on the bench for years behind more experienced players. Other issues like injuries, academics, problems with the coaches, or any other typical issue faced by college kids will derail many careers for the players in the top 300. By saying how important this guy’s commitment is to this school and updating the team rankings based on one signature, we’re setting them up to fail.

Not only are we giving teenagers way too much love, but we then wonder why they have such attitudes and act like such prima donnas. This issue extends past football. Look at basketball.

Some of the NBA’s top players and up-and-coming players have had exhibited such arrogance. Moments before Kobe Bryant announced he would jump to the NBA from Lower Merion High School in Pa., Bryant paused and gave the impression that he was actually pondering going anywhere but the association.

This past spring, Kentucky freshman Noel Nerlens and the consensus No. 1 player in 2012, announced his commitment to John Calipari and Big Blue Nation by turning in his chair with the UK logo shaved into the back of his high-top fade.

Or my favorite one: current Golden State Warrior Harrison Barnes picked North Carolina in 2010 via Skype. That’s right, Barnes made Roy Williams, a Hall of Fame coach, wait by his computer, and then graced him with a little face time.

Even the parents of these players, who in all likelihood will be attempting to ride their children all the way to the bank, get into the circus. Running back Alex Collins was all set to fax his signed letter of intent to the University of Arkansas before his mother stole it and took off with it in an attempt to prevent him from leaving their southern Florida home in favor of SEC glory.

That’s right. Of all the immature signing day antics that were committed by the players, an adult was responsibile for the day’s most ridiculous story.

National Signing Day is important to some. Luckily, I’m not one that spent my day watching high school kids pick up one hat and leave the others resting on the table. I avoid this because it’s an irrelevant decision for the most part, just like my decision Wednesday afternoon between Subway and Burger Studio.

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