May 9, 2014
Did anyone ever have a better time in their lives then during their collegiate years? I know my marketing guy didn’t, since he was able to pull off the rare obnoxious behavior double play by being banned from both an entire campus and a residence hall association as an undergraduate. He says that he was an “overachiever”, however, the campus constabulary used a less praiseworthy term in their assessment of his activities. Less than stellar behavior aside, I think we all fondly remember being accepted to the university of our choice despite having SAT/ACT scores below most of our classmates, free room and board, meals, dedicated dormitories, free workout clothing and complimentary tutoring services. Wait, what, you don’t remember any of those things? Of course you don’t, since odds are you weren’t attending Enormous U. on a football or basketball scholarship. Despite this disparity in experiences, you probably don’t realize how good you had it. Apparently while you were busy doing kegstands, the members of your school’s major athletic teams were being subjected to an existence that can only be described as oppressive and exploitive. But the times are a changing my friends. These guys are tired of being held down by the man, and they aren’t going to take it any more. It’s time to for them to get their own piece of the pie.
For those of you who don’t read the sports pages, the epicenter of this effort to get the hob-nailed boot of the NCAA off the throat of your favorite running back is Northwestern University where the team recently voted on the question of whether or not to join a union. Although we may not know the results for some period of time, the NCAA seems to moving quickly into full capitulation mode. For example, University of Connecticut basketball player Shabazz Napier said that there were nights that, as an athlete, he went to bed hungry. Apparently, the school’s meal plan did not include late night pizza delivery, so the good folks at the NCAA quickly righted this wrong by declaring that schools must now provide unlimited meals and snacks to their athletes. Obviously this makes sense since who can expect these representatives of some of this nation’s most prestigious institutes of education to complete a 40-yard pass or sink a 3 pointer when they are tottering on the brink of malnutrition. Let’s face it folks, a bag of Ramen noodles may be fine for your average mathematics major, but isn’t going to cut it for the U’s starting point guard.
Scholastics also seem to be an issue for today’s student athlete. Apparently, they have to schedule their classes around practices and games. The horror. Sure, you had to adjust your class schedule around the 30 hours or so you spent each week lugging beer kegs out to the trunks of student’s cars, but in the big scheme of things was your having to take that core computer science class at night more important than Big Billy Bob’s inability to take square dancing to complete his phys ed requirement? I think we all need to keep our priorities in order. Actually, attending class also seems to be an impediment to athletic performance since the UConn men were forced to overcome last year’s suspension for having a zero percent graduation rate for its senior players to win this year’s national championship. How much more can we heap on these kids?
Pocket money is an issue for any college student, and it’s no different for the scholarship athlete. Not having to pay for books, tuition, room and board (and we already know about the meals and snacks thing) can take a toll on the old wallet, so the call has gone up to pay these financially devastated young men a small stipend (a few thousand dollars or so) so that they can share in the college experience of their fellow students. This is only fair. I mean if Gigantic U’s star quarterback can’t even afford to put gas in his new car, how is he going to drive past all those kids on campus trudging through the snow to get to practice on time? I myself remember seeing my college’s All-America running back driving his new pick-up across town. Once I was even close enough to see him through his tinted windshield as he splashed me driving through the puddle next to the curb. I always remember this when the booster club calls me for a donation.
I must admit that I had no idea how these young men were being exploited by our institutes of higher learning. I guess I just assumed that they all lived in a drafty old house, took out student loans, worked part time and ate tuna fish for two straight weeks like I did. Upon learning of their plight, I must admit that I am overwhelmed by the barbarity with which these participants in major college sports are treated. Is chattel slavery too strong a term to describe their predicament? While I’ve heard some people say that they would like a little more student in their student athletes, I think they are missing the point. While anyone can work hard in to gain a GPA and test scores that can earn themselves admittance to a college or university, how many can make a free throw with the