(Photo Credit: 247Sports)
I know this blog is supposed to deal with family law issues, but “family law” is really a broad term which can cover any number of issues besides simply divorce or economic issues. It can also cover the interpersonal issues which arise as a result of fractured families; issues which gain momentum and manifest themselves in other areas of life.
Take, for instance, committing to pay college football. February 5th was National Letter of Intent signing day for high school seniors to commit to playing college football. Last year, I wrote about the unusual situation of Alex Collins, a running back from Plantation, Florida. Alex’s mom did not want him to play at the University of Arkansas, so she basically took off (literally fled the press conference) with his letter of intent. It was a ridiculous situation made more complicated in that Alex’s parents were not together and his father not present at the time. Ultimately, Alex’s father cosigned the letter and Alex went to Arkansas where he rushed for over a thousand yards on a bad Arkansas team (0-8 in the SEC). He will probably be the building block of a revitalized Razorback team under head coach Bret Bielema and the national media will be revisiting this story when Alex is getting ready to turn pro in two years.
With that in in my mind, I was reading about various teams recruiting classes and thought to myself that nothing bizarre had happened; was there not going to be any Signing Day intrigue?
In words of Lee Corso, “not so fast my friend.” It turns out another young man is being unfairly stuck in the middle of the competing interests of adults around him. Malik McDowell is one of the best high school football players in the country and he’s also 17 years old and unable to sign his National Letter of Intent without a parent or legal guardian. Unfortunately for him and Spartan Nation, it seems that neither of Malik’s parents are that keen for him to attend their local university, Michigan State, and would rather he go to some other Big Ten schools or perhaps to a Florida school. Malik’s father at least seems to be saying the right things, but he’s admitted that he’s essentially powerless to deal with situation due to the limitations on his custodial rights.
Suffice to say, at the heart of this issue is a custody matter. Since Malik’s mother has primary custody, his father has to go along with Malik’s ongoing recruitment. He also said perhaps a more realistic and responsible comment when he cautioned his son about alienating his mother with this decision.
Hopefully, Malik’s parents work together and respect Malik’s decision as a 17 year old young man to decide where he wants to go to school and play football.