Column: Harper makes difficult decision

Published 10:45 pm Friday, June 19, 2009

So, for my first column, I kept going over what I should write about. Coming up with these things isn’t the easiest thing to do.

I thought about writing about what sports have meant to me in my life. What this town has done for me in my nearly 15 years here. In the end, I decided to take a cheap way out and write about a current issue in sports that I find a fascinating subject.

If any of you have read Sports Illustrated in the past month, then you would have seen a story about Bryce Harper. They call him baseball’s “Lebron James.”

At 16, the boy already throws in the 90s and has hit a ball a recorded 570 feet.

Oh, and just to be sure to add to his growing legend, he holds the record for the longest ball hit at Tropicana Field (The Tampa Bay Rays’ stadium).

Now, Harper has decided to forgo his last two years of high school to get his GED, join a JuCo club in hopes of being eligible for next year’s draft, in which he would be projected to go in the top five picks taken.

The Internet is ablaze with the topic of whether this is the right move for someone who is only 16. For me, the answer is “No.”

Look, I know that the average career life of a baseball player is far less than someone who works a 9-to-5 at, let’s say, a newspaper. However, there is no need for anyone to skip out on finishing high school just to try his luck at the highest level.

I understand that, physically, he has gotten all that can be had out of high school baseball.

The problem here is that it will be his mind that needs to be sharp by the time he makes the majors. The older his is when he joins, the more composed and mentally tough he will be.

Harper needs to look at other cases of those who have decided it best to forgo high school.

Jennifer Capriati was a tennis prodigy who became a professional at the age of 14 when she joined the tour in 1990. By 1994, she had been arrested for shoplifting and marijuana possession.

Freddie Adu went from America’s savior in soccer, to a sub in Morocco.

I’m sure Harper’s family has thought this over for a long time now and thinks they have come to the right decision.

He has all of the tools to be an impact player for which ever team picks him (cough, Nationals, cough.) I just hope, for their sake, it is their decision and not that of “adviser” Scott Boras.

A lot of pressure has now been put on him on a national scale, and it is up to Bryce and Bryce alone to succeed or fail.