You live your life and let others live their lives. I’m a big believer in that.
Sure, we all can have opinions on things, and sometimes tough decisions have to be made for the good of a group, not just an individual. (Such as the national debate on wearing masks).
With that said, one thing I cannot stand is when sports fans feel like they have any right or justification in telling an athlete what to do.
You don’t. At all.
This comes up all the time in college sports, when a star athlete is considering leaving school early to turn pro. You’ll hear things from fans such as, “You owe it to your school and teammates to stay.”
Athletes owe it to themselves to make the best decisions for their futures, and that of their families. Period.
There’s more money at stake to some athletes than most of us will ever see in 10 lifetimes, and we — meaning fans, the media and everyone else in between — have zero say in what these young people should do.
All of this brings me to stud linebacker Micah Parsons, who now finds himself with an interesting decision to make.
Parsons decided last month to opt out of the college football season to prepare for the NFL draft amidst the coronavirus pandemic. He made that decision about a week before the Big Ten voted to postpone fall sports, including football.
Parsons, therefore, spent the past month or so believing there wouldn’t be any college football for him to play anyway. That has all changed now, thanks to the Big Ten’s decision earlier this week to reverse course and have a season starting Oct. 24.
Many people immediately started wondering if Parsons might have a change of heart and decide to come back to Penn State for his junior season.
James Franklin gave some credence to that possibility Thursday.
“Yeah, you always keep the door open. … We’ll see how it all plays out,” Franklin said.
“I’m going to try to see if there’s a way we can work it out,” the coach added.
Later Thursday, Parsons himself stoked the speculation about a possible return with this tweet:
At this age I never seen so many hard decisions I’ve been faced with!
— Micah Parsons (@MicahhParsons11) September 17, 2020
Now we have a very interesting situation all of a sudden.
Parsons has superstar potential. He was a consensus All-American last season as a sophomore and should be one of the best defensive players in the country this year — if he returns.
If he decides to turn pro, Parsons likely will be a top 10 pick and makes tens of millions of dollars.
There are two cumbersome aspects of his decision. First is this:
I was told Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons is "thinking about it" and weighing options on if he wants to opt back in for the season or not.
He declared for the draft and signed with an agent, so he would have some hoops to jump through to get back his eligibility.
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) September 17, 2020
Also, Parsons made his decision to leave college a month and a half ago. That’s a long, long time, and there’s a good chance he’s already mentally checked out on the college life.
“It makes it more complicated the longer they’ve been gone,” Franklin said.
Here’s the thing: If you were a college underclassmen and some giant company came and offered you a job worth tens of millions of dollars, how many of you would stay in school?
Sadly, but not surprisingly, there are some on social media claiming Parsons owes it Penn State to come back. The Nittany Lions have a chance to compete for a College Football Playoff berth this season, so naturally, fans want to see the best players possible on the field.
Micah Parsons doesn’t owe anything to anyone, only himself and his family.
If he does decide to return to Penn State, he will be a joy to watch because he’s flat out awesome.
But there’s still a lot of uncertainty about this college football season, whether it can be played in its entirety or not because of potential COVID-19 spread.
If Parsons reaffirms his decision to opt out and turn pro, we should all respect that decision and understand he has a lot at stake with the millions of dollars he’ll have on the table.
It’s his decision to make, and we’ll find out soon enough what he wants to do.