[OVERTIME] Fans may watch pros for fame, but should watch school athletes for heart

Picture this: A well-dressed adult walks into an arena and suits up to play a game. During the game, the player is largely non-communicative with their teammates, occasionally puts in effort when under the spotlight or on a screen, and leaves the arena alone, unconcerned about the outcome of the game or their teammates.

The person characterized is a professional athlete. Yes, the millionaire professional athletes who struggle to perform at a high level despite their elite talent level and compensation. It would be reasonable to assume that because of their stature as pillars of their respective sports that they would put forth the best possible effort every night, but sadly, this is rarely the case.Today, leagues such as the NBA, MLB, and other professional leagues employ players who simply do not perform at the level that they are capable of. Surely, this is not always the case, but when watching games on television or in person, it is hard not to notice some players and their lack of hustle. So, one can ask the question; should professional athletes learn from high school athletes?

For one, high school athletes are far more devoted to the team aspect of their sport. Players pay not for a paycheck, but instead, for each other, and in turn, they have more of a reason to lay it all out on the line and give forth their best effort. Reasons for this are clear; high school athletes are not as worried about being injured, which professional athletes see as jeopardization to their paychecks. But still, the point persists; the energy and heart that can be found in Historic Briggs Gymnasium at SPA simply cannot be replicated by, say, Minnesota Timberwolves players of the NBA at the Target Center.

Moreover, it appears that high school coaches are more comfortable holding their players to a higher standard, which in turn, increases their level of play. Professional coaches, such as those from leagues like the MLS, NBA, NHL, and MLB have to deal with the egos of adult athletes who dislike being told what to do by other adults, but there is no such power trip in the high school sports scene. Instead, because of the age difference, coaches are able to coach players with more free reign, and in turn, the product is more enjoyable to watch; the effort level of players is increased, as well as the communication they have with their teammates and overall team.

Ultimately, fans value and watch professional sports because of the fame of the players, and understandably so. However, encourage others to come out and watch high school sports instead, no matter the type of sport or season, because of the pure heart that young unpaid athletes display on there fields of play. If you do, you will get to watch players who play their game the way it is supposed to be played, more than making up for the glitz and glamour professional athletes offer in their careers.

Overtime is a monthly column by student athlete and The Rubicon editor Andrew Johnson.