By Sam Scanlon ’19
Ever since the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft rules changed in 2005, many athletes have been reclassifying in high school in order to graduate and get to college, and subsequently the NBA, a year earlier. The rule change required prospective players to turn 19 during the calendar year of their draft and be at least one year removed from their high school graduation, thus, tempting many players to accelerate their high school years and graduate a year early.
Although it is very popular for basketball players to reclassify due to the draft rule, athletes in other sports have gone down this road as well. Noah Hanifin, currently an All-Star defenseman for the Calgary Flames in the National Hockey League (NHL), was a highly recruited hockey prospect from an early age. He committed to play for Boston College, but decided to accelerate his high school career and join the Eagles a year early after reclassifying.
Bryce Harper also took that path and finished high school early in order to be drafted into the MLB. After many stories like Hanifin and Harper, as well as NBA players Karl Anthony Towns and Nerlens Noel, reclassifying may seem to be a good route to take. However, I disagree and believe that athletes should not be able to reclassify in order to finish high school early.
First, most athletes are not physically ready to compete against the top athletes in the world at 17, 18, or 19-years-old. Physical development is essential to maintaining a healthy and lengthy career. Attempting to push an athlete ahead one year and stunt their physical development and growth could be extremely detrimental to their career in the long run. I do not believe that risking any sort of setback in an athlete’s career is worth getting to their respective professional leagues one year sooner.
Along with physical growth being at risk, 17-year-olds may not be mentally prepared to make these important life decisions, let alone deal with them a year earlier. Being a year younger and have to deal with college can be extremely difficult for some athletes, and it only gets harder when they step into the spotlight as a professional athlete. There is a lot to worry about from a mental standpoint while making a large jump at such a young age.
I wholeheartedly believe that it is more beneficial to take the natural and necessary year to make sure that one is both mentally and physically prepared to ensure that their career, and livelihood, will be secure.