The National Football League has been getting widely criticized for their two game punishment of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. Some critics of the punishment say that the NFL is sending a message that domestic violence against women lacks the importance of some on-field personal fouls that can generate three or four game suspensions. The NFL also received headlines after the comments of highly respected current NFL analyst and former head coach Tony Dungy about Michael Sam. Dungy’s comments displayed how far American society must continue to go in terms of social issues when a man of his character hypothetically would avoid adding a player like Sam due to the media “distraction” of Sam’s sexual orientation. While the NFL has been garnering headlines the past two weeks for these stories, the world’s most popular basketball league, the National Basketball Association, quietly made a significant impact in the future of a young man with great character.
Former Baylor center Isaiah Austin is a former McDonald’s All-American and very highly rated high school recruit who entered the 2014 NBA Draft following his sophomore season. A potential late 1st round pick, Austin was looking forward to fulfilling his dream of becoming a NBA player when he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome in late June before the 2014 NBA Draft. According to the National Library of Medicine, Marfan syndrome is “a disorder of connective tissue…that strengthens the body’s structures. Disorders of connective tissue affect the skeletal system, cardiovascular system, eyes, and skin.” The diagnosis essentially ended Austin’s professional basketball career. Although he was surprised by the news of his career being over, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA created one of the most memorable moments in NBA Draft history by giving Austin the opportunity to walk onto the stage as a NBA draftee during last month’s NBA Draft.
The NBA has now gone a significant step further with Isaiah Austin. After Austin completes his college degree from Baylor, he has said that he will have the option of a NBA career after being offered a job with the NBA by commissioner Adam Silver. The great news doesn’t end there for Austin as he can choose between joining the NBA or continuing to develop his basketball coaching as he has already accepted a coaching position with the Baylor men’s basketball team. With their handling of Isaiah Austin, the NBA has done a great job of showing how special their league is and how important it can be that young men get an opportunity who play professional sports live out their dreams in many different ways.