“Finally, Andrew White has committed to play basketball somewhere.”
That’s a broadly paraphrased version of some people’s reaction to White’s commitment to the Syracuse Orange on Sunday. It’s a rather passive-aggressive remark that would make us believe White did something wrong by taking until late August to decide where he would finish his college basketball career.
Oddly, and perhaps unintentionally, the three-point specialist became a pioneer in amateur sports by taking his time and ignoring the critics. White might not become for transfers what Curt Flood became for free agents in professional sports, but his case certainly deserves more than a little (positive) recognition.
Yes, Andrew White has transferred several times, but no, that does not make him a bad person. It is weird that White’s cautious approach to figuring out his last spot was met with as much snark as it has. Here he is, a kid in a system that swears it is as much about academics as it is about basketball, and folks were perturbed that he took his time to do some book-learning.
That’s part of the issue here. Most people don’t actually care about White’s academic career. They are only concerned with how he helps the team and how his actions might alter their beloved commercial product, college basketball.
Some coaches and media consider the transfer epidemic that is going on an affront to a sport that makes millions of dollars off the backs of unpaid laborers. For what it is worth, the transfer epidemic isn’t real, but even if it was, so be it. College basketball players are humans, too — shocking I know — and deserve the same rights as everyone else.
It is worth mentioning that White’s college journey has been unusual, but using the little leverage he has — even if on multiple occasions — to find the best location for the development of his career is not something other people should get upset over. He didn’t prolong his transfer process in order to make money (heaven forbid); he didn’t pit fellow athletes against each other; nor did he engage in any of the other behaviors suggested by critics.
He is just a kid with prior experience in the transfer market who wanted to make sure he got it right this time. Because he has only one year of eligibility left, White didn’t want to rush into any decision merely because some of the sport’s central mouthpieces dubbed it a “look at me” situation, which it wasn’t. The reality is that he hit the transfer market later than most.
The problem here is that any student-athlete with the perception of power or leverage will be shouted down from the rooftops. White had no real power or leverage here; he just wanted to choose a university where he could play basketball.
White may have unwittingly set a precedent here, though. Graduate transfers can take note of how he navigated the murky transfer market. He wasn’t worried about other peoples’ perceptions or tweets about “taking too long to decide,” or anything else. He did what was best for him.
Many other players who transfer decide quickly, for a variety of reasons, not all of which are basketball related. There is a weird unspoken undercurrent of pressure on players to make up their minds before they have all the information they need.
Why? The culture of the NCAA, its members, and those who put both on a platform has created an oppressive environment which is hard for young men to transcend.
That’s a heavy statement in its own right, but it is even more complicated than that.
All these athletes we ogle on our televisions are kids. Sure, some of them might be 24 or so (think BYU players because of Mormon missions, or injury-plagued redshirts who become seniors), but for the most part they lack the wisdom that comes with accumulated real-world experiences. Moreover, being good at basketball puts these players in a social and cultural bubble that shields them from many of life’s otherwise more nuanced factors. That’s very hard to deal with as a whole person. These young kids need to treat their college careers — sports playing and otherwise — as a big moment in their lives.
White realized this.
He knew the ramifications — not only for his basketball career in college, but for whatever professional career that may await him. It dawned on him, accurately, the he owes college basketball very little. In fact, this author would make the argument that college basketball owes him more, not the other way around.
Not every player who transfers has a realistic chance to play overseas as does White, but the outside circumstances do not matter here. How we feel about White’s future means nothing.
All the people angered or outraged that White took as long as he did to make a decision that only alters the rest of HIS life — not ours — will forget about him in short order. They desperately want him to live up to some fictional NCAA standard stemming from the antiquated idea of amateurism, but not one soul sincerely cares about his well being, nor will anyone discuss him in any terms in a few years from now.
Let Andrew White be a lesson to future transfers. Allow him to be a pioneer of sorts. See the reaction to his latest transfer move, and then consider how people reacted negatively to him taking his time in making his decision.
After that, notice how it doesn’t ultimately matter what any of those people think. They are simply using you as a talking point, not as a fully-realized person with feelings, desires, frailties and grand aspirations.
The loud voices indirectly and (in some cases) unknowingly assembled against human rights aren’t here for you. They are here for every other reason outside of you.
Rather than worry about that, you do you, college basketball transfers.
Andrew White took his time and found a place he wanted. No one got hurt. No one was inconvenienced in any meaningful way.
You can take your time, too.