I guess I'm just getting old. But I can remember when kids looked up to athletes who were role models and gods to us.
I can remember following the career of Al Kaline, long time rightfielder of the Tigers. About 1960 he was offered the team's first hundred thousand dollar contract; he turned it down. He would only accept ninety thousand because the team wasn't winning.
Look what we have today.
Two reasons for this,
1) High School and College Coaches (and AAU) can make a lot of money off talented players. Teenagers know this and will take full advantage of the situation. High Schoolers on TV, Colleges making millions in football, grown men going fanboy on 18-22 year olds
2) The MSM back then used to cover for the players, now they build them up to insane levels so they can tear them down.
I think we should move towards the English soccer league method for football and basketball. Turn them pro at 14, the coaches are hired by the pro teams with the job to turn these kids into good pros.
All the college teams become pro teams. Free agents, etc. The top three teams in the division will be promoted to the NFL level, the bottom 3 NFL teams dropped to the "College" level.