Besides making me feel bad about myself for not being a professional sports player already, the increased use of rookies in the highest tiers of professional sports interests and worries me.
I am predicting a shift in professional sports from relying on experienced veterans to playing their best rookies in the most prominent positions.
Let me preface this by saying: I do not think this is good for sports, I think it is good to have a balanced mix of veterans and youngins.
I’ll use the example of the 2016 Dallas Cowboys, a team written off by most with a rookie running back, Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback, Dak Prescott. The only reason Prescott was playing at first was because Tony Romo was injured. But, he has since proved to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league, leading the Cowboys to a 7-1 record.
Prescott is also the first rookie in NFL history to have 6 starts with a 100+ pass RTG in his team’s first 8 games of the season.
Another example is the 18-year-old English wonderkid, Marcus Rashford, starting striker for Manchester United. If you are not familiar with English soccer, Manchester United are the richest and most well-known club in England. And their two best strikers are 18 and 20 years old.
The most extreme example this year is Celtic’s 13-year-old midfielder Karamoko Dembele, who recently was subbed on for his premiere for the Celtic team.
These are just a few examples, if you look at any big soccer club or NFL team I can guarantee you will find at least one “wonderkid”.
I believe the increased use of these rookies is going to contribute to shorter professional playing time, higher chance of young careers ended by injury and a new standard excluding experienced veterans.
NFL players careers are already extremely short, they don’t call it Not For Long for nothing. But, with the increased use of rookies, the “prime” of players will become shorter and shorter. I predict in the year 2030 a player will play one season and then immediately replaced by a younger player.
Although, soccer careers are significantly longer, the same effect will occur, just at a smaller scale. “And here comes John Smith, 9-year-old striker for Arsenal FC, he has scored ten goals so far this season, and is hoping to score some more today.”
The chance of injury for football players is already extremely high, add the inexperience of a young player, makes the chance even higher. Although, soccer percentages are not as high, the same inexperience applies.
With all of these added risks and changes to the standards, professional teams should use there rookies safely and sparingly, in order to build their experience. Then, use the players when they have played a lot of hours in game and are ready to compete.