It doesn’t matter a tiny bit to me where Dawson Garcia goes to college.
Fans of basketball programs at Indiana, Marquette, Minnesota and Memphis will be on pins and needles Wednesday afternoon at 4:30p ET as they watch Garcia pull a hat from under a table with the logo of his chosen school.
It’s an absurd ritual for talented teenagers over whom basketball programs have fawned for months or years. The kids make public their decision to attend a school, and its fans erupt in a euphoric torrent of love. Fans of schools spurned by the young man’s choice take to Twitter and other social media to torment the kid and his family until sidetracked by something else.
Anonymous attacks and threats are an unpleasant side effect of social media, and Garcia will be introduced to them today. All those enthusiastic fans of schools he will not pick today who have sent him kisses and good wishes will respond with ill-temper bordering on hatred.
People who invest heavily in the college choice of a teenager are prone to other silly behaviors. That will become clear to Garcia at 4:31 p.m. today.
My nephew is in the high school class of 2020 and he is trying to figure out where he’s going to study. Indiana is one of his finalists too. But no one outside his tight circle of family and friends cares where Sean is going because, unlike Garcia, he is neither 6’11” nor ranked as the 31st best basketball player in the class.
I’m certain that my nephew will benefit from his educational experience whether he follows in his aunt and uncle’s footsteps in heading to Bloomington for somewhere between four and six years of classes and distractions, or if he heads to Ann Arbor, East Lansing or another campus. Wherever he goes, I’m good with it.
IU fans will be fine with Sean’s choice too. They don’t much care about the 12,000 incoming freshmen who will not wear candy stripes.
Why would I – or you – have a greater emotional investment in the college choice of a stranger who happens to be tall and talented than our own nephews, nieces, or sons and daughters of friends?
It’s simpler (and saner) to wait for high school students to become college students before we invest in their ability to help Indiana win basketball games. I understand the fascination with recruiting, and even get caught up in the chaos when I see or talk to a talented recruit.
With that personal connection, I develop a perspective and can’t help but invest a little bit in a kid’s choice. I did that with freshman Armaan Franklin when he played at Cathedral High School. I love the selfless way he played and believe will be very productive for the Hoosiers.
If Garcia goes to Marquette, as is being speculated by almost all the experts who are paid to offer that speculation, I wish him luck.
Indiana will be just fine either way. I hope the behavior of fans reflect that belief regardless of his destination.