Head in the Game: Practice makes perfect in any profession

Chris Mihal is a sophomore journalism major and writes "Head in the Game" for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily represent those of the newspaper.

Being part of the journalism program at Ball State, students like myself are required to do internships. It's for the experience. So, why should basketball player Theron Smith be condemed.

A week ago the NCAA decided to enforce a bogus bylaw. The rule states that any player that participates in an organized baskeball game, like the pre-draft camps, will have to sit out as many games as they played.

That's the minimum punishment.

In reality, it is to the NCAA's discretion how many games the player would have to sit out.

Here's the kicker.

It is Ball State's job to file the violation for the NCAA.

When I found this bit of information out on the phone, I snickered and sat there thinking.

Why on Earth would this school register a violation on its own star basketball player? I pondered this until I learned who registers the violations.

This is where David Land comes in. Land is the director of compliance for Ball State and it is his job to make sure there are no NCAA violations.

He told me the bylaw was new to him and he wasn't sure why they never enforced it in the past.

I was also told of Jason Gardner, an underclassman last year for the University of Arizona. He participated in games and never received a violation.

This peeked my curiosity.

Land tells me players have violated this rule in the past and the NCAA tells me that it is rarely ever enforced.

Smith has been training for the draft since the end of the school year in hopes of being invited to the Chicago pre-draft camp. I think it's a wrong move on the NCAA's part to enforce the bylaw this late into the off-season.

And I think it would be wrong on the school's part to register the violation assuming he played in the pre-draft camps.

Smith is getting experience, the same way any student does when they go off and do an internship.

I get the feeling that internships are encouraged for a person's education at Ball State. It's the next step to enter the professional field.

I don't see a difference in Smith's situation.

When he announced himself eligible for the NBA draft in April, he made it clear he would not hire an agent in hopes of returning to school. That move says something in itself.

He's saying that he may not be ready to enter his profession. So, why not let him go find out?

What is wrong with him displaying his skills for future employers? Students do it all the time through internships and portfolios.

Smith should be allowed to test the market.

Through the camps, he improves on his game by playing with and against the best. If he pulls out of the draft, he still comes back a better player than when he went in.

I think Smith should play in the camps if he gets invited. Invitations for the Chicago camp will be decided today and players will receive invites Tuesday.

Smith is a great player. There's no doubt about that.

But, I think he should return next season.

Looking at a player like Tim Duncan, who stuck around for his senior year, has excelled in the NBA because of it. Others who enter early, usually take more time preparing mentally.

So, let the man play his game. Don't punish him for wanting to become a better player.

If so, do away with internships and other professional experience that makes students better as well.


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