How much is a scholastic athletic career worth? According to the Washington Post, Garrett Sauls, a freshman at South River High School in Maryland was faced to answer that question in May, when the streakily talented Maryland teen won a putting contest at Lake Presidential Golf Club in Upper Marlboro, Md. For winning the contest, Sauls was given the opportunity to walk home with a $5,000 check. He turned the money down, because accepting it would make him a professional athlete by default.
"I was thinking [of taking it] because you wouldn't really get in trouble unless you get caught," Sauls told the Post. "It's like in college football, those players, sometimes they get paid.
"If you know you're not good enough, then you take the cash. I'm no superstar or anything, but it's still in my mind that I have the possibility to play."
Another good start would be allowing a high school kid to wins money in a contest several years before he would be considered a golfer, let alone a professional one.
I wonder how old a kid has to be before he can accept a prize for doing something and not have it affect his amateur status. If Garrett was 9 years old and won a similar contest and accepted the money, would his amateur golf career be adversely affected? If not, then why is it wrong to accept money when he's a freshman in high school? I don't know too many people who have a job now that they dreamed of having when they were in junior high school. Why is athletics any different?
Or, suppose he had won $5,000 in a pie-eating contest? Would it be OK to accept the money for that, or would it affect his amateur pie-eating status? It's about as ridiculous as it gets. Why does it matter how he won the money or what age he was when he won it? In my judgment, if he isn't already a golfer (or at the very least in college) then he can win as much money as someone will give him.
Sometimes we carry ridiculous rules too far. Or, most times. Take the money, kid. Chances are you'll wind up doing something else with your life besides professional golf. And then, you'll realize how stupid some ideologies are and how the only thing that matters is the near future and recent past - and you've already screwed up one of those things.