Sportswriter misunderstands who one-and-done rule hurts

Jamie Squire

As happens all too often, someone sees the impact of a bad idea and argues that doubling-down on the bad idea will somehow make it better. Today, the topic is the one-and-done rule.

Until today, I'd never knowingly read anything from the Lexington Herald-Leader's John Clay, so I hope he doesn't take this personally.  But his piece on the one-and-done rule starts from a backward premise and then devises a solution that merely worsens a problem rather than solves it.  Much as Bud Selig has spent the entirety of his tenure as commissioner making problems worse by trying to fix the symptoms instead of the underlying ailments, Clay thinks the one-and-done rule can be improved by expanding it.

He begins his piece lamenting the fact that Julius Randle spent one year in Kentucky and lead the Wildcats to the NCAA Championship game, an odd thing to lament as a writer for a hometown paper that we assume prefers it when the home team does well.

No one can criticize Randle's career path.

We just wish we could have gotten to know him better. And longer. He seemed like a fine young man with a great support group.

The basketball world now knows his mother after Carolyn Kyles was forced to leave the Midwest Region finals at halftime to catch a plane back to Texas to be at work the next morning.

In a piece that focuses on how helpful an increase in the age limit would be for sports, Clay spends a sentence reminding the reader that the mother of the player in question couldn't even attend the NCAA Championship game in its entirety because she had to go to work the next day.  The final game of a tournament that makes billions every year, and the person most important to Julius Randle couldn't attend in person due to financial reasons.

John Clay wants to change all this.  He wants to make sure that in the future, Julius Randle might have to play in multiple NCAA Championship games before he can finally earn a wage from that labor.

To be fair, Clay does at least adopt the most sensible of the views out there on this topic:

New NBA commissioner Adam Silver wants to raise the NBA age limit. That requires approval of the NBA Players Association. ESPN's Brian Windhorst reports sources inside the players union say they favor the Major League Baseball model - one Calipari doesn't support - in which players can be drafted out of high school. Those who opt for college must remain in school at least two years. That seems both fair and preferable to the current system.

We're all for Julius Randle and the previous 11 living their dreams, after all. We just wish they were required to delay them a bit longer.

Honestly, I can't figure out what Clay is saying here.  He describes the union position as one he supports, but then states he wishes that Randle's dream would be delayed a bit longer?

If he wants college basketball to adopt the MLB rule, I can at least admit that's the lesser of two evils.  The MLB rule gives players at least one bite at the apple before they decide whether to go to college or not.  Of course, there's no justification as to why athletes - as compared to many others who went to college and left early to pursue their dreams - should have to make that decision at the end of high school or delay it for three years.  Yet, I understand this at least alleviates the issue Clay has, and also gives players an avenue to the NBA one year earlier than currently exists (where they have to wait until one year after their high school class graduates).

But if he supports Silver's assertion, that's ridiculous.  Again, I understand Clay is simply looking out for the college game here, not for those who play it.   But it's hard to love the player and support rules that work to injure him.  There's genuinely no justification other than "it makes me happier" to require players to spend more time in college than they wish to spend before they go off and pursue their dreams.

I understand it can be frustrating to have players come and go so quickly in college basketball, but only 24 playerschose to do so in the last 3 years (2011-13).  If Kentucky fans don't like the model, they can simply ask John Calipari to employ a different model, or hire a coach that will do so.  Otherwise, forgive the rest of the nation if we're not sympathetic to the plight of "only" getting one season worth of free services from NBA-caliber players.

The final word goes to fellow GABAer Connor Tapp:

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