Being the OG that I am, there's another hot topic out there right now that I have a big problem with. And that is all the scandals that have broken out among big Division I college football programs and their players receiving improper benefits. I'm not just upset because the school at the forefront of these scandals is Ohio State (heck, I didn't even go there), as there are plenty of other big schools in the mix. Miami (FL), University of North Carolina, USC (that's the University of Southern California, for all you South Carolina fans. FYI, everyone outside this state thinks of SoCal when you mention USC) - just to name a few. Ironic that OSU and Miami play each other this year. I'll take "Shame Bowl" for $100, Alex.
Each school has their own set of issues, but the overall "crime" is the same - players received some type of benefit strictly for being a football player at their respective school. This has been an NC-double-A rule since the beginning of time. When a college recruit signs their name on the dotted line stating they can basically get a college degree for free (as long as they don't receive anything extra on the side), they more or less become the property of their school. Each player is told from the beginning that they are not allowed to receive ANY type of benefit strictly for being a ball player. They aren't supposed to get discounts on food, clothing, cars, whatever... and they aren't allowed to sell anything given to them by the college for cash or discounts on services received. Everyone clear on the rules? K, good.
I have a couple issues with this whole situation. First, I think these colleges forget who they're dealing with. These are kids (usually fresh out of high school) who typically had nothing growing up. They have been thrust from the poor neighborhood they grew up in to the big stage of DI college football. They are blinded by the bright lights of stardom and are surrounded by people who want to reward them for being a star. When you were growing up, rich or poor, you wanted to be rewarded for your effort, right? So some booster slips you a handful of Benjamins after you have a good game, so what? Who's getting hurt here?
I'll tell you who: the kid who buses tables late at night just to pay for his/her next semester's $900 worth of textbooks. Or the kid who spends more time in the library than the football player does on the field. I bet those kids get better grades than the jocks who are on a full-ride scholarship - and where is their reward? Is there a booster standing outside their classroom handing them a free pass to the local gentleman's club just because they got an A on their last mid-term? I don't think so, Scooter.
Some argue that the degree is their reward. Ok, I'll buy that. But, they aren't getting their degree for free like the jock is. Let's be honest, most jocks are basically getting a 4 (or 5)-year audition for their next job (the NFL, in this case) for free. Go ask the busboy how much he's had to shell out to spruce up his resume. Ask him how much he's had to spend on nice clothes for his job interviews. Or what about the non-paid internship he completed last summer? I'll take "Broke as a Joke" for $200, Alex. Oh, it's a Daily Double? Good thing I can risk up to $1,000 since I don't have any money at the moment.
Bottom line: surrounding teenagers with the opportunity to do the wrong thing but telling them not to take the bait is a recipe for disaster.
Many people feel that since the colleges are making so much money off these star athletes that they should pay them. Well I got news for ya - they kinda already are. As much as we try not to admit it, higher education is a business - and a big one at that. It's simple economics - us normal folk pay money for a good and/or service (which in this case is getting educated on various matters of the world) and we receive a shiny piece of paper with the school's emblem on it stating that we paid for said goods and/or services. Kind of like a receipt, yeah?
Well, in this case - the busboy is paying in cash and the athlete is paying in sweat. Now don't get me wrong, I realize that the football players pay a hefty price too. Only their currency is their body - pulled muscles, torn ACLs, separated shoulders, broken fingers, etc. Trust an aging has-been, they'll miss their knees when they're older.
My point is that the payments aren't equal between the athletes and the non-athletes. The bookworm (or their parents) pay tens of thousands of dollars for them to go to college, study hard and bust their behind for years in order to obtain their receipt... I mean, degree. The football players don't pay a dime, skip class, barely stay eligible, and go to practice for a couple hours six days a week. Then, the overwhelming majority don't even finish their degree and leave for the big NFL payday. And the ones that don't go to the NFL stay in college and still earn their degree for free.
Everyone knows that athletes on full-ride scholarships to big-name schools don't get treated the same as the John Q. Student's of the university. What really bothers me is that shady boosters and rich alumni don't seem to care. These football players are getting enough help as it is... they don't need your wads of cash, free cars and scantily clad women dangled in front of them. It's not going to make them play harder, it's just going to confuse them when they get into the real world and realize that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Just let the kids be, you know, kids.