Anthony Alford probably isn’t a name that resonates with very many hockey fans. As far as we know, the 6 foot, 210 pound native of Petal, Miss. isn’t much of a hockey player and we’d even hazard a guess that he probably can’t even skate.
What we do know, is that the recent 3rd round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays becomes yet another talking point for the hypocrisy surrounding the NCAA’s classification of Major Junior hockey players as being “professionals”.
Under the current rules for NCAA Hockey, a 15-year-old player who was drafted by a Major Junior team decides to play in an exhibition game that season. Sounds good right? Well, that decision just cost that player his NCAA eligibility as he is now considered to no longer be an amateur player according to the NCAA. You see, the NCAA considers Major Junior Hockey (WHL, OHL, QMJHL) to be a professional league, so by playing a game there, that player is now lumped into that designation.
Has he received any money? Unless there was a shady under the table deal, no. Is there anything really professional about a 15-year-old player who might not even make a Major Junior team? That was probably rhetorical.
And that brings us back to Alford, and while his career has nothing to do with hockey, his situation does.
Alford is a highly regarded two-sport star. Regarded as one of the top high school baseball players in the United States, Alford doubles as one of the top football players and was considered to be a Top 150 recruit nationally and one of the top quarterbacks available from the High School Senior Class. With a verbal commitment to the University of Southern Mississippi, Alford entered Monday’s MLB Draft with the stigma of being a “tough sign” for an MLB team.
Well less than a week later, the Toronto Blue Jays have broken down that stigma, but once again it opens up an interesting dilemma. The Jays have reportedly signed Alford for a signing bonus around $800,000 USD with an agreement that Alford will play professional baseball with the Jays’ Minor League Affiliates during the summer, and for the Southern Mississippi football team during the school year.
Where’s the correlation you ask? Well, for one, Alford is now considered a professional baseball player, so his ability to play NCAA baseball is out the window. However, we now have a professional baseball player who has just signed for close to a million dollars who is still considered an “amateur” for football purposes.
Meanwhile, the 15-year-old kid who might have $1,000 to his name from a summer of working at the local golf course is considered a professional athlete from playing in a meaningless exhibition game.
Is it just us, or is there something wrong with this picture?