Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Russell Wilson: Rookie First Team All ACC Quarterback

I was sitting between my brother and my father in the home section at the recent UNC vs NC State game in Chapel Hill. The State offense, let by freshman Russell Wilson was dismantling the UNC defense, and Carolina fans were stunned. Many were loudly blaming the UNC defense…who at the time was one of the top rated in the NCAA.

Most UNC fans don’t go to State games…but I am required to so by my wife, an ardent State fan. (This ain’t so bad, considering the fun that State fans have tailgating versus Carolina fans…more on that later.) So I had already seen Wilson do miraculous things in several games. Because of this, I felt the need to disabuse the angry UNC fans around me of the idea that it was a faulty defense that was allowing State to march up and down the field…Russell Wilson was the problem….for UNC or any team for that matter.

So now State fans are euphorically envisioning three more years of Wilson’s magic, as I am. (UNC will figure something defensively by then) Many think he is too small for the NFL, so he probably would not be leaving early for pro football. Instead, unfortunately for all of us, (and I mean that) Wilson may be lost to professional baseball instead; because he is a prodigal second baseman…this being one of the reasons he came to State in the first place.

So why would he do this to us? We want to delight in his quick feet, laser vision and rocket arm for years to come. Well, money talks and non-football players walk, usually without a limp. If Wilson was to go to pro baseball, he would earn a minimum of $350k and possibly up to $4 million his first year. That is serious coin, especially in the middle of whatever you want to call our current economic conflagration.

Other things start to figure into the equation as well. College football has the highest injury rate of any sport…ten times greater than baseball and six times greater than basketball. The injury type is many times a concussion, which Wilson has already had, and a fairly serious one at that.

The prevailing opinion in sports medicine is that there are only so many concussions an individual should take before giving up contact sports. Too many concussions can lead to all kinds of problems including depression, confusion, short term memory loss and an affinity for Rush Limbaugh.

If you actually survive college and make it to pro sports, the numbers speak loudly as well. The average career length for a pro football player is three years. For major league baseball it is 5.6 years which is about the same as basketball. So if you have a choice, you would take baseball due to it providing you on average twice the income earning potential as football. (This math becomes more difficult with too many concussions.)

The last thing I would factor into Wilson’s equation is what I would call “the fun factor”. This relates to how much fun, or not, it is to play these sports. I played football and basketball in high school, and baseball until the 9th grade, and I can say from my own experience is there is a huge difference in how much fun a sport is to watch versus to play. For example:

Football: Really fun to watch. Painful and arduous to play, even if you win. You can barely get out of bed the next day and you do not want to get near a football for several days afterwards.

Baseball: Sort of fun to watch for a dwindling audience…sort of an acquired taste that many young Americans aren’t acquiring. Sort of fun to play but includes long periods of boredom punctuated by the terror of screwing something up. Why do you think they chew all that tobacco…they need the nicotine to stay awake.

Basketball: Fun to watch, especially in March. Really fun to play. Basketball players will get out of bed the next day and go find a pickup game. Even if you lose, you can have fun doing it.

So you start to see why Russell Wilson might not be around for three more years. We fans don’t play…we just watch…so we all hope he sticks around regardless of the risks…but I also hope he makes the best decision for his future….which could be baseball.

I’m not a baseball fan so I would probably never to get see him play anything again…which makes me sad.

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