Imagine sitting with your friends and family in front of a camera broadcasting to millions of viewers on national television and having to tell the world your plan for the future of your life. Now imagine you’re an 18-year-old senior in high school.
Not a lot of people can handle that kind of pressure, especially at such a young age, but the nation’s top high school recruits come out every year and announce in front of the world where they will be playing their college ball.
College footballs national signing day is always a day full of drama. Prized recruits change their mind about verbal commitments at the last second, leaving one school heartbroken and another ecstatic.
A recruit changing their mind last minute to attend a different school is not an uncommon occurrence. The family pushes him to chose a school closer to home or he decides on a school where he’ll have more friends.
This year, Cassanova McKinzy, a linebacker from Birmingham, Alabama may have taken the cake for the most ridiculous reason to change a commitment. When asked why he had committed to Auburn University rather than Clemson, McKinzy responded by saying, “(It was) kind of the environment and plus they had no Chick-fil-A on campus.” He added, “You had to go probably 15 minutes off campus to go to a real restaurant. Their café was kind of small.” The most comical part of the situation is not McKinzy’s clear lack of decision-making skills but rather that there is in fact a Chick-fil-A on the Clemson campus. After his statement garnered so much attention from the press, McKinzy tried to retract his words by saying he was only kidding, and Chick-fil-A was not the only reason he chose Auburn over Clemson.
Regardless whether we believe McKinzy or not, it brings up the question of if these 18-year-old boys are mature enough to be making such big decisions on national television.
It’s clear ESPN will broadcast a special on nearly anything relating to sports. That was most obvious when ESPN aired “the decision,” a primetime weeknight special advertised for days in advance, where LeBron James revealed his decision that he would chose to play for the Miami Heat.
If ESPN is willing to make a special about where you chose to go to college, what high school senior would turn down an opportunity to go on national television with friends and family and make a spectacle of it?
A recruit like Rushel Shell just may be the exception. Shell, a running back from Western Pennsylvania, had planned on attending Alabama, a powerhouse school where he would get all kinds of recognition to further his career but instead chose to attend Pitt. His plans changed after his girlfriend became pregnant with twins. Shell made a grownup decision and decided stay closer to home by electing to go to Pitt so he could help take care of his soon to be children.
A recruit like Shell shows the potential for maturity in the process but it’s a far cry to ask other 18-year-old boys to behave like him.
While the big hoopla about the signing day process may be flawed from both sides, I think a disappointed headshake should be given to those who exploit the situation for profit and put these high schoolers in front of millions and expect them to make mature, well thought out decisions about the future of their lives.