The NFL Draft and the High School Prom
In 1844 Karl Marx opined that religion is the opium of the masses, but almost two centuries later religion has been surpassed by… NFL football. Both involve vast sums of money contributed by people of average or lower income to provide a lush lifestyle to those in power. Both are ostensibly non-profits. Both can and do lead to violence if a person of a particular “faith” gets into an argument with someone of other passionate beliefs. Both are the stated reason for amazing levels of violence between people and cities. And more.
Much ado in the news today about a high school in California where a “tradition” exists of the boys holding a mock “NFL Draft” of potential dates for the prom. Girls are assessed and rated, and a lottery is used to create the order in which the boys make their selections. They evidently can pay money to “move up” in the draft, although it was not clear in my reading who gets the money.
As a career teacher in my first life, this strikes me as appalling in a way, but also funny. And utterly predictable.
For weeks, in fact stretching back into near infinity, all of the sports TV networks have been discussing the imminent NFL draft ad nauseum, with platoons of hired “experts” discussing the preparation and factors and so forth, on and on to… turn off the TV. The draft is a process that involves a lot of preparation, but can be understood in 5 minutes or less, making of TV (again) the “vast wasteland” described decades ago. Here it is in two short paragraphs.
You have a finite number of players eligible for the NFL draft. You have thousands of hours of video of the players performing. You have endless verbiage of statistics and analyses of those statistics. You have videoed and personal interviews, as well as questionnaires filled out by the individual players.
You also have the perceived needs of the team you represent. You spend as much time as you deem sufficient, a span that evidently approaches the infinite, to determine a game plan. Each team will make one pick in an order determined by their finishing positions the previous year, and altered considerably and up to the last minute, by trades and assorted deals. This continues for as many rounds as there are players deemed worthy of being drafted.
The fascination comes from the unpredictability of it all, in several directions. You do not know how your selections will actually perform as professionals. Neither does anyone else, including the players. You do not know the selection strategies of the other teams, so as each player is selected, your options change. And so it goes. It is a daunting task, but then so are many such tasks completed by thousands of people at their daily jobs. Consider the tasks ahead for the employee tasked with sourcing the manufacture and delivery of all of the parts, sub-systems, and electronics of a new Boeing airplane that currently exists only as a CAD display.
High school boys tend to be sports fans, as they are trained to be by the schools. This is not entirely bad, but the boys also watch a lot of the sports talk shows. They learn by watching.
And really, is this “draft” all that different from what happens in all high schools in all years on a less formalized basis? Things have changed over the past few decades. When I was in school everyone I knew was “going with” someone. Asking was always done by the boy, who always asked a girl, and there was little suspense. These days a much lower percentage of students are dating only one person (or perhaps any), the asking can be done by either a boy or a girl, and the askee can be either a boy or a girl. And just like the NFL, the sums of money expended for an uncertain outcome are staggering.
When I taught at Juanita High School, a fellow teacher had a very clever system where he put two lists on an otherwise unused grease board. One list was of boys who needed a date, and the other girls. This let students know, in private, who was “available.” As people paired up their names were removed. This was fun for all and extremely effective.
Boys selecting from the pool of available girls is nothing new, and it works in the other direction as well. When my son was in high school, he had a date for Homecoming. The girl broke the date two weeks before the event because she got “a better offer.” May she rot forever! It worked out well, as I set him up with a smart and gorgeous girl who was one of my students. Not all boys dumped in a similar situation have things turn out that well.
There are still double standards at work in our approach to these things. Some time ago a girl asked an NFL player to go to her prom. He went, and it created a warm and happy buzz. A month later a boy asked a famous female model, and it was looked upon with horror. My reaction was the opposite.
I suspect this California situation will generate a great deal more buzz than it deserves. The reason for that is that the boys have borrowed, inappropriately, a holy rite of the church of the NFL. Infidels!
Copyright 2014 David Preston