After a team-record 28 losses, head baseball coach Bob Seddon and pitching coach Bill Wagner must have known that there was nowhere for the Quakers to go but up. Little did they know that the Ivy League champion football team might just hand them a quarterback. A quarterback who can throw an 88 mile per hour fastball. In what initially seems to be an unfortunate break for Seddon and Wagner, incoming freshman Jonathan Searles might just be a bit too good throwing the baseball. The Pittsburgh Pirates selected the quarterback/pitcher in the eighth round of the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft. The rule certainly limits Searles' opportunities, but the upside for Seddon is enormous. "He has three professional pitches," Seddon said. "He has a straight change, a curveball, and a big-time fastball. He's got a great arm and great talent...[but] there's no rhyme or reason why [Searles] should sign. He's an eighth-rounder." Seddon hopes to build Searles' skills at Penn to increase his draft value coming out of college while also building Penn's program back up from last season's futility. "The only danger is injury," Seddon said. "He's gonna be worth more after [his] junior year. If you get into the Wharton School, and you have a chance to play football and baseball in college, you will be worth a lot more in the end of your junior year." However much the rule can help Searles' future value and Penn's baseball program in this instance, it does not make sense to have such a mandate in the Ivy League. As classical values promote a sound mind and a sound body, what greater showing of soundness could there be than to excel as a student and play football at a Division I-AA level, all while climbing the ranks of a professional baseball organization? No one stops an aspiring painter from stepping onto a field of play and writing poetry about his experiences. No one tells a math major that she can't go to the observatory to chart the stars after soccer practice. It is both unfair and nonsensical to treat Searles' multiple talents any differently. If he could somehow successfully balance all of the demands of such activities, then more power to him. If Searles should spend his summer tossing baseballs in the Pirates system, how different would that be from Penn basketball guard Lamar Plummer working in Philadelphia Mayor Edward Rendell's office last summer while hooping it up in the Sonny Hill League? Many people wonder why the Ivy League no longer turns out athletes like Lou Gehrig and Sid Luckman, why the Ancient Eight now produces Doug Glanvilles and Joe Nieuwendyks -- athletes who are certainly good at the professional level, but not among the greats of their games. While the eight Ivies provide excellent academic opportunities, they are really unable to accommodate the needs of athletes. It is impossible to say where John Searles will be in four years. If he signs with the Pirates, he could make his way through a minor league system that is known for its development of pitchers. If he stays at Penn, Searles could develop as a football player. He could become an even better baseball player and increase his future draft value. There is also the risk that Searles could incur an injury. And he would then have to rely only on his mind not just his arm -- to make his way in the world. The good part of the bargain for Searles is that there is no wrong decision. The shame is on the Ivy League for creating this dilemma for Searles.Comments powered by Disqus
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