Dick’s Sporting Goods: November 2017

Addison Dick, Sports Editor

It has been difficult to ignore the impact Lavar Ball has had on basketball and sports in general since Lonzo Ball, his oldest son, rose to fame for the UCLA Bruins last year. Lonzo now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, middle son LiAngelo is a freshman on the UCLA basketball team, and youngest son LaMelo is 16 years old and committed to play basketball for the Bruins three years ago.

Lavar entered the political arena a few weeks ago after LiAngelo and two other UCLA players were arrested in China for shoplifting a pair of sunglasses. After being released, Lavar Ball went back and forth with President Donald Trump over whether the White House helped the three players avoid jail time. The dispute included many tweets and even a CNN interview for Ball in which he denied the president’s claims.

This is not the first time Lavar has been outspoken about himself or his three prodigal sons. Some of the more outlandish comments include declaring he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one in his prime and claiming Lonzo is already better than two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry.

While Ball’s comments have increased media coverage of his family, they have also resulted in consequences for his sons. Lonzo has seen fewer minutes for the Lakers due to his unsuccessful start on the court but also his father’s criticism of Luke Walton, the current Lakers’ coach.

Parents at the high school level can also become too involved in their child’s athletic lives. With increased pressure to receive athletic scholarships due to the rising cost of college, parents more than ever want their children to succeed on the field. By continuing to play in college, the best high school athletes can save families thousands of dollars every year.

While the money saved is important, focusing too much on sports can detract from students’ academic success. It can also be a large risk for student-athletes; the NCAA says only two percent of high school athletes receive athletic scholarships in college.

When student-athletes are practicing for numerous hours after school and on weekends, it is difficult to complete homework and get enough sleep to maintain good health.

Lavar Ball chose to eliminate this issue in LaMelo’s life when he decided over the summer to homeschool his youngest son for the rest of his high school career. Now, LaMelo will not receive a proper high school education and will likely only spend one year at UCLA before entering the NBA.

Although LaMelo is likely to become a successful NBA player, there are many high school athletes who spend as much time practicing as him who cannot afford to give up on school. The NCAA notes 0.03 percent of high school basketball players end up playing professionally. The other 99.97 percent must work hard in school to pursue a different career.

It is crucial for parents to allow their children to decide how much time and effort they want to give to their sports.

One of the most important parts of high school is allowing students to mature and begin to make their own decisions.

Children like the Ball brothers, whose father does not allow them to act independently, will never learn to grow up and develop into their own person. Even though Lonzo is now a professional, he struggles to advance in his profession because he relies on his father to speak for him in an unhinged manner.

Student-athletes will be better off and make the most of their education if they are free from parents who manage every move of their lives when it comes to their athletic path.