Should 14-Year-Old Kids Be Allowed To Commit To College Sports Programs?
Tate Martell is 14 years old. So, you could presume that he probably likes to do a lot of the things that other 14-year-olds like to do. Hang out with friends? Sure. Play outside at recess? Probably. Watch sports? Of course. But, there’s one thing that makes Martell different from just about all of the other 14-year-olds out there. He already knows where he’s going to college when he graduates high school. And, it’s not because of where his parents went to school, either. It’s because 14-year-old Tate Martell just committed to play college football for the University of Washington Huskies.
That’s right. Despite the fact that he’s only 14, Martell has already given the Huskies a verbal commitment to play football for them once he’s finished playing high school football. He can’t receive a written offer from Washington until September 1, 2016 and he can’t sign his official letter of intent to play at Washington until February 2017. But, he’s already given his verbal commitment to them—which is what most high school juniors and seniors do just before making their commitment official. The only difference between him and them? Well, they’re young adults; he’s still practically a little boy.
It’s crazy, really. The fact that the NCAA allows this to happen and doesn’t have some sort of rules against it is crazy, too. At the very least, the NCAA should come out and discourage schools like Washington from doing this. But, they continue to allow them—and other schools like the University of Southern Cal and Louisiana State University—to contact young teenage players in order to get verbal commitments from them. And, that’s just wrong, because 14-year-olds kids don’t know what they want to wear to school tomorrow, let alone where they want to attend college in five years.
To combat this practice, the NCAA needs to put some rules on the books that prohibit college programs from getting verbal agreements from prospects until they are, at least, sophomores or juniors in high school. That way, young kids won’t be bothered with having schools contact them when they should be out doing things like hanging out with their friends, playing outside at recess, and watching sports. There will be plenty of time to worry about picking colleges later. For now, why not let them be what they are? Kids who don’t need to be making major commitments when they’re only 14 years old.