High school sophomore drops out, plays baseball instead [by Josh]

Bryce Haprer SI coverWith the guidance of his parents, 16-year-old Bryce Harper has decided to quit high school and play professional baseball.

Harper’s talents far exceed many current professional baseball players’ abilities. He has hit a 570-foot home run, can throw a 96 MPH fastball, and has speed to match Jacoby Ellsbury. There is no doubting that this kid has the physical make up to be an effective baseball player.

Baseball’s “chosen one” has had his potential compared to that of Tiger Woods and Lebron James. Furthermore, Harper has excelled in the classroom maintaining a 3.5 GPA at his religious high school. He has decided to receive a GED and take classes at a local community college until he waits for the 2010 draft, where his talent may make him the first pick.

With this knowledge, should Bryce Harper quit high school to become a professional baseball player?

Yes. Bryce Harper should quit high school to play professional baseball. If he were to stay in high school he could suffer a devastating injury, and/or his development would suffer due the lower skill of his opponents.

Many believe that if he left he would be missing out on the high school experience. Harper is currently on the national level for baseball. If he were to stay in high school, media and scouts for both MLB and college will be attending his games for the next two years. These scouts would need interviews and to set up times with the family to meet. Similar to Lebron, Harper’s games may become nationally televised. These various elements would not create a normal high school experience.

Lastly, baseball is a form of entertainment; baseball wants young, marketable players. Obviously, Harper fits this mold and would help attract many fans to the television or better yet to the stadium. Despite being under 18, he has a right to his pay day, just as the Olsen twins, Miley Cirus or Hanson did.

I am a firm believer in education, however, in some instances it can actually prevent select individuals from attaining larger life goals. I believe it is important for Harper to receive a high school diploma and he should follow the example set forth by many professional athletes who have attained this later on in life. Athletes typically accomplish this goal by hiring a personal teacher or attending classes in the off-season. He will be marketable which, in turn, makes him a role model to many youths. Harper needs to be cognizant of the fact that many who admire his greatness will lack the development that he was blessed with. He must become an advocate of school, while making young baseball fans aware of the difficulties in following his footsteps.



  1. Hey Buntologists,

    I love the new design of the site, and you’ve got some cool content.

    Way to go.

    Boris Revsin

  2. (thanks boris!)

    anyway, i wanna see some pics of this kid. he sounds pretty hott. i had a thing for the baseball team in high school…

    aaaand miley cyrus is a whore.

    nice work, josh!

  3. After about midway through the article, my gut reaction was no, he should continue with school. At 16, he hasn’t even attained his complete physical growth. Thrusting him into an environment of much older and far more experienced athletes could very well be problematic, though that depends on Bryce Harper’s personality, his current level of maturity, and his ability to cope with pressure. I have not read the “Sport’s Illustrated” article on him, but his potential as a player appears beyond anyone currently playing in professional baseball today, but that’s an expectation, not a reality.
    As I continued to read Josh’s blog, I began to see his point. The national media has already put young Bryce Harper in the national spotlight. Whatever “normal high school experience” he may have had is no longer possible, and the possibility of injury while playing high school baseball could be an end to his dreams of a professional career. So, taking that into account, I believe Bryce Harper and his parents have indeed made the correct decision.
    Hopefully, professional baseball will see to it that he gets good guidance on and off the field, allows him to grow as a person, and attempt to limit the expectations of his ability to produce in the major leagues. After all, Major League Baseball is entirely different game and world than high school baseball.

  4. Steve-O says:

    Generally its fair to assume that in no case is it ever good for anyone to quit school, even to make a large amount of money and play a sport professionally, an Bryce Harper is no different. It is also very true that at 16 years old, he is still growing and developing, and while he may not get any taller, he will fill out and add probably about 15 or 20 more pounds to his frame over the next 6-8 years. However, there are a couple of points that are being slightly over-looked here, one of which has been mentioned. He is not entirely quitting school, as he was enrolled in a junior college and will still be taking classes. He will also be earning his GED, so its not like hes just completely quitting school, he just found a loophole to fast track his career.
    The other issue here that needs to be considered for all young athletes trying to get there as quickly as possible is the ultimate health of the individual. For example, a high school football player that is way better than his competition would be destroyed if he fast-tracked to the NFL, no matter what his skill set is. Body size alone is enough to show that he would just get run over by everyone else in the league, probably ending his career due to devastating injury because his body hasn’t grown up yet. Baseball is different, however, because they have the minor leagues, which allows players to play at a near major league level and still continue to grow and allow their body to catch up to their ability. Making it to the Major Leagues is the most difficult thing for any athlete to do in any sport because of the minor league system as you will not advance without showing major improvement at each step along the way and separate yourself from your peers. In other sports, you make it quick and wash out when your abilities do not match your expectations. In baseball, you have to live up to and exceed your expectations. While this makes it more difficult for your average ball player, this system benefits the Bryce Harpers of the world because it gives him a chance to get used to the type of competition he will face before he gets there instead of being thrust into the lion’s den. It also will give us a chance to look at this kid and see if he is going to be as good as we think. We all know he can throw 96 mph and is part of the 5% of high school players who can consistently throw well over 90. The next question to answer is going to be, can the kid HIT a 96 mph fastball, which WILL be thrown at him, and more importantly, if he can will he be ready for that 87 mph change up that pitchers love to throw the hitter off balance? We shall see

  5. Pat Rickman says:

    How will such a young man survive the social pressures of PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL? There are so many things that he is not allowed to do yet because of his age and/or he will be frowned upon for other actions that over 21 professional baseball players do and say every day.
    Family time is compromised immensely when he becomes a professional. He may be in the spotlight now, but nothing compared to the glare of the lights he will receive if he goes professional. I also think he has more chance of getting injured at such a young age if he goes professional. Of course, these thought are coming from a naturally protective Mom. Thought-provoking article, Josh.

  6. Pat Rickman says:

    One more thing—Guys—think of the changes you went through between 16 and 21 or 22 16—sophomore or junior in high school verses junior or senior in college. For most young men there is tremendous growth in maturity in all areas during those years. For some, there is a tremendous physical growth also. I think all of the above is safer played out in a non-professional atmosphere than in the professional baseball arena.

  7. Pat Rickman says:

    Sorry—have to keep replying. What if he does not make it or worse yet, gets hurt in the minor leagues?—all his eggs in the pro baseball basket—-no high school diploma—no college—trained for what?
    What about his psyche and emotional state if he does not make it? Much easier to handle emotional set backs when your hormones slow down!

  8. “What if he does not make it or worse yet, gets hurt in the minor leagues?—all his eggs in the pro baseball basket—-no high school diploma—no college—trained for what?”


    If there’s anything Jason Street taught me from Friday Night Lights it’s that people are made out of glass. And career ending injuries may be less common in baseball than say more physical sports, but none the less… this kid goes down and he loses it all. Better to have any remote backup plan.

  9. Well he is getting his GED so he will have his high school equivalency so its not like college is not an option in the event that he does suffer major injury, meaning that he does have a back up plan in place. As for the growth between 16-22, we’ll have to see how that affects him. His parents will still be around and taking care of him, he will just be playing against a higher caliber player. While not necessarily common, its not unheard of for young teenage athletes to rise up and overcome the pressures involved with professional sports and succeed. Granted many of those kids are of foreign decent (Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban baseball players, all these Russian tennis playing girls), there is at least a sample of evidence to suggest that he will adapt fairly well.

  10. Just wanted to thank everyone for commenting while also making an additional point. 18 year old Ricky Rubio was taken 5th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolve’s. He is from Spain and has been playing professional basketball over there since he was 14 years old. European basketball leagues are second only to the NBA in competitiveness.

  11. It seems quite amazing that a 14-year-old can play successfully at the professional level, but it hasn’t been a problem for Ricky Rubio. There’s an excellent article on him at — wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricky_Rubio

  12. Rochelle says:

    Just read this and had to comment. As a former teacher and also a HS student who skipped school every other day I voted that this kid should get the GED and go for the pro deal.
    Everyone has made some valid points but I feel HS is not as great as everyone seems to want to make it out to be . It sounds like this is one exceptional kid both in baseball and in academics. The article says he has maintained a 3.5 average. It sounds like he has a decent set of parents so I have to figure they aren’t about to just be seduced by money and fame. Granted, anything is possible. Bottom line… this kid has a tremendous opportunity because of his talent. He is continuing his education in a different setting not abandoning it (GED and comm. college).
    Life is short…go for it!

  13. Nice one! If I could write like this I would be well chuffed. The more I see articles of such quality as this (which is rare), the more I think there could be a future for the Web. Keep it up, as it were.

  14. Do you feel Bryce Harper will really be the first baseball draft pick in this years major league baseball draft? Traci via Bryce Harper Baseball Player

  15. Why not just finish school and get a full scholarship to a good college with a Class A sports rating? I’m sure they would love to recruit him. He gets HS done, 4 years of college to develop his talents at a more appropriate level for his age, and when he is done he (if he is as good as they say) will most likely be recruited by MLB. At least then if he has a career ending injury, he can fall back on his 4 year degree from a prestigious college, not an equivalency diploma and some community college. Lets face it, the “right” school makes a big difference.

  16. You have to graduate from high shool to be in baseball, and you spelt Cyrus wrong.

  17. You can definitely see your skills in the paintings you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

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