Gap Year

Of late the NCAA has been under fire from student-athletes and fans. In American universities/colleges the sports played there are not for fun; it is big business which results in almost $20 billion in revenue. However, not a penny goes back to those who bring it in – the athletes. The NCAA insists they are being “paid” by receiving a free education. This has been a bone of contention for decades.

The fight has gone back and forth for decades. Of late the NBA has allowed student-athletes to “one and done” things. Meaning they go to university/college for one year then are allowed to declare themselves eligible for the draft, so they can start earning money. Some have started to skirt that rule by engaging in a gap year.

Here we follow around Darius Bazley, a consensus five star recruit and the top basketball player coming out of Ohio, right after he graduates from high school. He had initially decided to go to Syracuse University, but instead chooses a gap year. Bazley signs with an agency, Klutch Sports Group, who gets him a deal with New Balance, the first by a basketball player. Part of it is a million dollar internship at New Balance.

Soon this teenager is going to work everyday while trying to manage living on his own for the first time and finding time to workout and practice basketball. Not exactly leading a life people his age usually do.

Plenty of interviews with former NBA commissioner David Stern, other NBA executives, agents, basketball reporters, some friends, and even teammates. Though we do follow Bazley around we don’t get much right from the horse’s mouth. It would have been nice to hear more from him.

All about NCAA rules in regards to athletes isn’t fair for the young people. The powerful schools and organizations reap all the monetary benefits off the backs of the talented athletes. This has led to the athletes being tired of being exploited so looking for loopholes in the rules. The NBA is a co-conspirator not wanting too many athletes jumping to the professional ranks right out of high school (like Lebron James and Kobe Bryant) by making a rule that you have to be 19 or older to declare for the draft.

A decision like Bazley’s can be seen as disruptive. Or he can be seen as a maverick. Someone who is not blindly following rules which are not fair. The stakes are high for an athlete of his calibre. They make millions of dollars. Waiting one year could mean a large loss of revenue and if the athlete suffers an injury which ends their career….well, you see why this is an important decision for any young person.

A 50 minute documentary directed by T.J. Regan and Josh Kahn and it is now available on all digital platforms.

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