The reaction to the news of California high schooler Jeremy Tyler's plan was as predictable as it was tired. The New York Times reported Thursday that Tyler, a 6-foot-11 junior at San Diego High, plans to skip his senior year in high school to play professionally in Europe. In two years, when his high school class is one year past graduation, he'll return to the U.S. and enter the NBA draft.
The tongue-clucking was deafening. You'd think the Book of Revelation had been revised to include skipping a year of high school to play pro basketball right between the sun turning black and the moon turning red. This will kill college basketball, some said. This kid is throwing away his future, others said.
Since no European newspaper sports editor offered me a six-figure salary to skip my senior year of high school, I don't feel qualified to rip Tyler's choice. I've never walked in his high-tops. But I do have a few questions for the folks who consider Tyler's move an abomination.
If he played golf, would you feel differently?
If he played tennis, would you feel differently?
If he had gotten his own show on the Disney Channel, would you feel differently?
Set aside the obvious racial overtones for a moment and consider only the sport-specific double standards. We celebrate individual athletes when they turn pro at a young age. Maria Sharapova was the darling of the tennis world at 17. Joey Logano is tearing up tracks and getting paid at 18. We celebrate entertainers when they turn pro at a young age. Nick Jonas, 16, is an actor, a musician and a paparazzi magnet. Miley Cyrus, 16, just might control the universe.