Bo Knows The Pitfalls Of A Two-Sport Career
Many of us played multiple sports in High School, in that great chase to Burnish Our College Resume and make us more attractive to people we wanted to spend special time with. Also, we often loved the sports and we were good and we enjoyed the camaraderie of our peers. But, mostly, it was the first two reasons. History has shown us several freakishly athletic individuals who were able to excel and dominate at a professional level. This list is by no means exhaustive, and if you have a nominee, hit the comments section below, but it includes heavy hitters such as Jim Thorpe, Babe Dedrickson Zaharious, Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson.
This column was sparked by Mr. Edward Vincent "Bo" Jackson. Any Discussion Of Jackson Is time well spent.
Jackson sparked this conversation by stating Russell Wilson shouldn't waste his time playing baseball. Which is ironic, because there are many who believe that Jackson should have focused on baseball himself. As for what the legend, thinks himself: He considered football a means to an end, the end being money, and nothing more.
The American Dream isn't that you win a ton of money and act like a jackass. Though, if you watch enough TV these days, you'd think that was the case. The American Dream is that you have enough money to do what you love.
Jackson's comments on the end of the two-sport athlete indicate something specific to his mind that is transferable to the general sports world at-large. He was so remarkable the mere words I could type would not do sufficient justice. Everyone should watch the fantastic 30-for-30 on him which I've already mentioned, but will link to again here.
Economic forces are miserable. They force you to do things that you don't want to do. Even in sports. The hope is that the current system causes athletes to choose the sport they love. Odds are it doesn't. It causes athletes to be entrepreneurial and then choose what will yield the most cash in return for labor.
When you do something you don't love it's a job. When you do things you love, it's your passion. Those who get paid for their passion have careers. Chris Rock does it better than I ever could. Bo Jackson, famously, thought of the NFL as a job. He thought practice was a waste of time. Because he was a genius. Because he was a Man of Steel. It's understandable that Superman wouldn't want to practice.
Any and all of this conversation is good. It lets more people know about how amazing Jackson was and, it hopefully informs decisions on specialization. Also, he's right. With the amount of money organizations are investing in these players, it's surprising that there aren't already contract clauses that exist prohibiting other activities from those they pay. Not just playing other sports, but in all sorts of other risky behaviors. Though, to be fair, NFL Contracts are not particularly reliable but that doesn't mean that isn't the future.
The demands on the modern athlete, particulary the quarterback, make the notion of playing another sport a logistical nightmare. The postions where it is possible are risky financially. Once you commit to a sport, which you have to do, at the latest as a sophomore in college, that's the end of the dream. Athletic talent doesn't by definition translate to dominance in every sport. I give you, Charles Barkley at golf. But aside from logistics, there is a much simpler explanation as to why this is unlikely.
It's because Bo Jackson isn't walking through that door.