Opinion: It's a matter of mileage

Mustafa Shakur is weighing out his options. He has his choices down to two schools, Arizona and NC State. Arizona is a premier basketball program with recent tradition while NC State has rich history and signs of a promising future. Either choice for Shakur could turn out to be a good decision for his personal development.

Let us assume, that the two schools are even for argumentative purposes. We could debate "this for that" like it has been by many interested observers. Mike Bibby, Julius Hodge, Lute, ACC, Point Guard U, playing time and so on and on. But let's don't argue.

Instead of debating the points of both schools, let us assume that Mustafa says what he means in the post Raleigh interview by CatTracks. "It was a very tough decision". In other words this race for the best Point Guard in the country is real close. CatTracks says that "the best way to describe his situation is to call it a dead heat".

A dead heat means a race that finishes in a tie for first. As we all know, there are no ties in recruiting. If it is truly a dead heat in Mustafa's mind, then one thing may push a winner to the photo finish. His support unit.

The round trip mileage difference between Philadelphia to Tucson is 4655 miles (estimated 83 hours of ride time). From Philadelphia to Raleigh, the round trip is 804 miles (estimated 15 hours of ride time). While not pretending to know the Shakur's personal financing or their schedule, I'll look at them for this discussion as if they were similar to me. I'll assume they are an average family of four with moderate income who needs to consider time and economics.

First let's look at the time, money and effort it would take them to see their son play on a Saturday afternoon game in Tucson. They would need to leave Philadelphia on the previous Tuesday. They would drive for ten hours per day for four days to arrive in Tucson on Friday night. They would rest and visit Mustafa on Friday night then take in the game on Saturday. After seeing their son again on Saturday night, they more than likely leave Sunday morning, driving for ten hours each day before arriving back in Philadelphia late Wednesday night. If you took the economical route, as most of us would, a family of four would spend some $260.00 in gas, $630.00 in food, $480.00 in lodging and $180.00 ($20.00 per day) in miscellaneous activities. That is a total of $1550.00, assuming that vacation time was used for the nine day wagon trail adventure.

The trip to Raleigh to see a Saturday afternoon game, the Shakur's would need to leave Philadelphia early on Saturday morning. They would arrive in Raleigh around 2:00 and watch the game. They would visit with Mustafa that evening, spending the night in Raleigh. They would again spend time Sunday morning before departing Raleigh around noon. Arrival time in Pennsylvania would be around 8:00 that night. The economical route would be some $45.00 for gas, $140.00 in food, $60.00 in lodging, and $40.00 in Miscellaneous activities. Grand total for the Raleigh trip would be $285.00. This is a weekend adventure, so we assume no vacation time is needed.

Now, of course you could say, that's not realistic you must fly to Tucson. That would eliminate some of the time factor, so let's look at what Travelocity has to say about that. The family could fly out sometime on Friday with one stop over. They could visit with Mustafa on Friday night and Saturday morning. Everyone could have a grand time watching the Wildcats annihilate the competition, then go back to the hotel room and visit some more that evening. A flight back would be handled on Sunday morning. The cheapest flight for a family of four would be $1502.00. They might be able to take advantage of Flex-fare but that would involve restrictions, so let's just consider the standard flights. The lodging would be $120.00, rental car and gas is $100.00, food would be $160.00 and miscellaneous activities would be $60.00. The total cost of an air trip would be $1942.00.

A Raleigh flight for the family would be $622.00. The same fringe costs would apply for a total of $1062.00.

Getting the drift here? The best Arizona scenario considering time and economics would be the flight for $1942.00. The best Raleigh case would be to drive for $285.00. The flight to NC State and the drive to Arizona are not worth the efforts.

If, Mustafa speaks the truth and CatTracks is right in calling this race a "dead heat", sooner or later the economics of a child going off to college must be considered. We know that Shakur values his family's opinions. He also looks to Coach Wright who has mentored him since he was nine years old. Therefore, I say it will be hard for Shakur to look his support unit including his mentor, in the eyes and ask them to either restrict their time together or to spend the extra $1672.00 per trip to see the "Philly Flash". The distance for Mustafa may not be an issue. But for his family, if they are like my family, an averge American household, it is an issue.

It is a matter of time, economics, family bonds and indeed, mileage.

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